Pelicans Rumors

Pelicans Claim Christian Wood; Waive Jason Smith

5:37pm: The move is official, according to a tweet from the Pelicans.

4:10pm: The Pelicans picked up former Bucks forward Christian Wood on waivers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Jason Smith has been waived to create a roster opening, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Milwaukee parted with Wood on Monday to make room for Tim Frazier, who was signed to bolster the backcourt after an injury to Malcolm Brogdon. There was speculation that Wood might draw interest on the waiver wire because of the promise he showed in the G League and a $1,645,357 salary for next season that is non-guaranteed. He will receive $822,679 if he’s not waived before opening night, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. With the waiver claim, New Orleans inherits Wood’s $1,512,601 cap charge for this year, which is removed from the Bucks’ books.

Wood, 23, got into just 13 games during his time in Milwaukee, playing less than five minutes per night. He made a huge impact in the G League, averaging 29.3 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 2.4 APG and 2.1 BPG on 55.9% shooting in 28 games (35.3 MPG) for the Wisconsin Herd. He has previous NBA experience with the Sixers and Hornets.

Wood may get a greater chance to prove himself with the Pelicans, who are playing Anthony Davis on a limited schedule and are thinking about shutting down Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore for the rest of the season.

Smith finds himself on waivers after playing just two games for New Orleans following a trade from the Bucks last month. The 33-year-old was on his third team this season, playing six games for Milwaukee and 12 for Washington.

Holiday, Moore Could Be Shut Down

  • Making the right lottery pick, determining the business and basketball impact of an Anthony Davis trade, figuring out whether to retain or trade Jrue Holiday and deciding whether to retool or rebuild are the biggest challenges for the Pelicans front office this summer, ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes. Marks takes a long look at all of these issues as part of a series that breaks down every team’s offseason moves.
  • The Pelicans might eventually shut down Holiday and E’Twaun Moore for the rest of the season, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Holiday is nursing an abdominal injury and Moore is dealing with a quad issue. Coach Alvin Gentry told Guillory the team would be  “overly cautious” during their recovery.

Los Angeles Notes: Davis, Clippers, Ingram, Zubac

The Lakers and Pelicans paused trade discussions centered around Anthony Davis once the February 7 deadline arrived, but the sides could choose to circle back and open new discussions once the regular season comes to an end.

New Orleans fired general manager Dell Demps and is expected to ramp up its search for a new GM in the coming weeks, someone who will likely assist in moving Davis to a new team this upcoming offseason.

“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” one Pelicans source told The Athletic’s Shams Charania around the trade deadline.

The Pelicans believed the Lakers were negotiating through the media, coupled with the fact that Davis’ agent Rich Paul — who also represents Lakers star LeBron James — delivered his client’s trade request just months after signing him to his agency. New Orleans’ management was clearly angered by these tactics, and it’s unclear if they’ll even consider moving Davis to Los Angeles this summer.

“I have been told that there’s no way Anthony Davis is coming here (to the Lakers), through the Pelicans,” ESPN’s Marc Spears said this week, as relayed by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “They’re just not going to do it.”

The Celtics would likely be considered front-runners to land Davis if they choose to pursue the NBA All-Star, owning a collection of young talent, future picks and promising assets to offer in a deal. Davis has averaged 26.5 points and 12.2 rebounds in 53 games this season.

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • JaMychal Green, Garrett Temple and Wilson Chandler are going through an adjustment process in their first full month with the Clippers, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. All three players were acquired by the team via trade in February, with each player holding multiple years of NBA experience.
  • Andre Ingram is once again taking the stage in his new deal with the Lakers, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. Ingram has spent the past 11 seasons in the NBA G League, inking a 10-day contract with Los Angeles this week after briefly shining with the team last spring. “Last year was amazing, but this year, it means a little more,” Ingram said. “This is not just an Andre Ingram Day, it’s a Los Angeles Lakers game that you need to win, and this trip will be a good one to get some wins on. So that’s really the focus, genuinely to help the team win any way I can, whatever part I play in it.”
  • The rim protection of Ivica Zubac has helped the Clippers drastically improve on defense, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Clippers acquired Zubac, an underrated two-way center, in a trade with the Lakers last month. “We have a rim-protector. Bottom line,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Trezz [Montrezl Harrell] does it at times. But Zu is a true rim-protector, and Zu has been great at it. So that’s why (we’ve improved).”

Pelicans Expected To Ramp Up GM Search Soon

The Pelicans are expected to ramp up their search process for a new general manager next week, sources tell Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link).

According to Kushner, a search firm has been looking into potential candidates for the job and is expected to provide ownership with a list of five to 10 names soon. Once the Pelicans receive that list, they’ll be able to begin conducting interviews and eventually selecting finalists.

For now, veteran executive Danny Ferry has assumed the GM reins in New Orleans on an interim basis following last month’s dismissal of Dell Demps. While Ferry appears likely to finish out the season, the Pelicans’ timeline for a new hire may put them on track to name a permanent GM early in the offseason. Ferry figures to be a candidate for the full-time job, but if the club goes in another direction, the new hire will likely be tasked with sorting out the Anthony Davis situation this summer.

After Demps’ firing, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Pelicans were hoping to land a “top basketball executive who will take on a more prominent role in the franchise.” Over the last several years, Demps technically worked under president Mickey Loomis, a football executive who is the general manager of the New Orleans Saints.

Although Loomis is expected to remain involved in the Pelicans’ operations, he and owner Gayle Benson appear motivated to hire an executive who will report directly to Benson while Loomis focuses nearly exclusively on football.

Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin and Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren are among the execs who have been identified as possible targets for New Orleans.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Ingram, LeBron, Trade Talks

Lonzo Ball was hoping it wouldn’t be necessary, but he understands the Lakers‘ decision to shut him down for the rest of the season, writes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times.

Ball hasn’t played since January 19 when he injured his ankle driving to the basket. He feared it was broken at first, but it turned out to be a Grade 3 sprain, which involves a torn ligament. He was given a four- to six-week prognosis to return, but a bone bruise in the ankle is keeping him out longer.

“It’s just the situation I’m in right now,” Ball said of the Lakers’ decision to end his season early. “So I have no problem with it.”

Ball, who saw his rookie season cut short because of a knee injury, is still traveling with the team and is looking forward to an opportunity to train this summer, which he couldn’t do last offseason. He said he had finally started playing the way he hopes to about five games before hurting his ankle.

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • The blood clot issue that forced the Lakers to shut down Brandon Ingram is affecting his trade value, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. L.A. offered Ingram to the Pelicans last month as the centerpiece of an Anthony Davis deal, but Windhorst doubts that New Orleans would be as interested in Ingram now, even if doctors were to find that he has a low chance for the blood clots to recur. Ingram’s status is also complicated because he’s eligible for a contract extension this summer, and Windhorst doesn’t believe any team could get insurance to cover future blood clot issues.
  • LeBron James is still “fully committed” to the Lakers despite a rocky first season in L.A. and the uncertainty of whether the team can land another star or two, Windhorst adds in the same story. James told Michael Lee of the Athletic that he believes the Lakers will return to the playoffs during his time there and he has given no thought to shutting down this season. “I live being a professional,” James said. “I live playing every game like it’s my last, no matter what’s going on. You finish up strong. That’s just who I am.”
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the Davis trade talks “sapped morale” for some players. He adds that team president Magic Johnson’s lecture after the deadline about treating players “like babies” had the same effect.

E’Twaun Moore Out At Least 7 To 10 Days

A recurrent left quadriceps contusion that Pelicans swingman E’Twaun Moore suffered Wednesday night will sideline him for more than a week, the team announced on its website. An MRI conducted Thursday confirmed the injury, and the medical staff will re-evaluate his condition in seven to 10 days.

Moore’s absence leaves the Pelicans even more short-handed in the wake of last night’s news that Jrue Holiday will miss at least seven to 10 days with a lower abdominal strain.

With newly-signed Dairis Bertans still not available and Trevon Bluiett sidelined after thumb surgery, New Orleans will have a limited roster tonight against the Raptors. In addition, Jahlil Okafor is questionable with a right ankle sprain and Anthony Davis remains on a minutes limit.

Moore has posted an 11.9/2.4/1.9 line in 53 games, making 36 starts. An eight-year veteran, he is in this third season with the Pelicans and is signed through next year.

Jrue Holiday To Be Re-Evaluated In 7-10 Days

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday will be re-evaluated in 7-to-10 days after being diagnosed with a lower abdominal strain, the team announced. Holiday underwent an MRI on Thursday morning which revealed the injury.

Holiday, a top-tier defensive guard who’s in his sixth season with New Orleans, has averaged a career-high 21.2 points, five rebounds and 7.7 assists in 67 starts this season. Guards Frank Jackson and Ian Clark could see more playing time during his absence.

The Pelicans have games against Toronto, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Portland and Phoenix in their next 10-day stretch, with four of those five contests set to be at home. The team currently holds a 30-37 record, good for the No. 12 spot in the Western Conference.

To this point, Holiday hasn’t missed any time this season and sat just one game last season after multiple years with injury concerns. The Pelicans’ injury report for Friday against Toronto also includes Dairis Bertans (personal), Trevon Bluiett (right thumb surgery) and E’Twaun Moore (left quadriceps contusion) as out, with Jahlil Okafor (right ankle sprain) listed as questionable.

Pelicans Notes: Bertans, Holiday, Resiliency

Dairis Bertans‘ new two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Pelicans will be non-guaranteed for next season until August 1, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (via Twitter). If Bertans remains under contract through that date, he’ll receive a $150K partial guarantee. That partial guarantee will subsequently increase to $300K if he’s still on his deal through November 4. It’ll become fully guaranteed next January.

It’s not clear yet whether Bertans will be part of the Pelicans’ 2019/20 plans — that could hinge in part on what sort of pieces the club receives in its eventual Anthony Davis trade. Based on the structure of Bertans’ contract though, New Orleans won’t be forced into making any early decisions. The team could theoretically audition him throughout training camp and the preseason and only be on the hook for $150K if he’s waived just before the regular season begins.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • While fans and league observers may have expected the Pelicans to start bottoming out after Davis’ trade request, the team has been resilient over the last few weeks, winning recent road games in Denver and Utah. This isn’t what tanking looks like, says Scott Kushner of The Advocate.
  • Will Guillory of The Athletic makes a similar argument as Kushner, identifying Jrue Holiday and head coach Alvin Gentry as the driving forces that have helped the Pelicans stay focused and competitive. New Orleans has “dodged the toxicity” that has affected fellow lottery teams like the Lakers, Guillory writes.
  • After previously locking in a $255K bonus for surpassing the 2,075-minute threshold for 2018/19, Holiday has now secured another $255K bonus by playing in 66 games, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. As Marks notes, Holiday should also earn another $510K in performance-based incentives this season.

Lakers Notes: A. Davis, Deadline Deals, LeBron

Despite Jeanie Bussinsistence that the Lakers‘ reported offers for Anthony Davis last month were “fake news,” Shams Charania of The Athletic reiterates that L.A. made “several aggressive offers” for the Pelicans’ star, with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart all included in at least one proposal. However, sources told Charania that the Pelicans had no intent of moving Davis before the offseason, and especially not to the Lakers.

As we previously relayed this week, Buss and the Lakers reportedly believe that rival teams were leaking stories in order to hurt L.A.’s chemistry. However, Charania suggests that Buss may not have been aware of “every aspect of the play-by-play” of those trade discussions, and writes that the Pelicans were also frustrated by the public nature of the talks.

“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” a Pelicans source said to Charania.

The idea that the Pelicans were leaking the trade offers to hurt the Lakers has become a popular – and somewhat logical – theory, but it hasn’t been confirmed, so the comments by Charania’s source shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. It’s worth noting that most of the reports on those specific offers came from a Los Angeles-based source, the L.A. Times.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Sources tell Charania that the Lakers’ coaching staff and front office both wanted to add more shooting to the roster at the trade deadline, which was what led to the deals for Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala. Bullock has been solid, but the trade for Muscala, which cost the team Ivica Zubac, hasn’t been a success so far.
  • Speaking to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), LeBron James expanded on what he means when he says that “inexperience” has been a problem for the Lakers this season: “You have four guys in our top-eight rotation that you have to really rely on and it’s unfair to them to ask for so much when they’re in their second or third year.”
  • In a discussion on the Lakers’ season and future, a panel of ESPN.com writers primarily assigned the blame for a disappointing 2018/19 showing to the front office.

Pacific Notes: Zubac, Fox, Lakers’ Issues, Free Agency

Young center Ivica Zubac has kept close tabs on his former team and says he could have made a difference for the Lakers if they hadn’t dealt him, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register reports. Zubac was a part of the deal that landed brought power forward Mike Muscala to the Lakers. Zubac has averaged 8.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG in nine games as the Clippers’ starting center. “I’ve been watching almost every game,” Zubac said. “I feel like every time I watch them, I’m like, ‘If I was there, I would help them. I would definitely make a difference on the floor,’ you know? But they’re not my team anymore.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The longtime trainer of Kings guard De’Aaron Fox is now his agent, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Chris Gaston is newly certified as an agent and has launched the “Family First Sports Firm.” Knicks guard Damyean Dotson has also hired Gaston to co-represent him, Haynes adds.
  • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and members of the front office believe that rival teams have taken great pains to cause internal damage to the franchise, a knowledgeable source told Sam Amick of The Athletic. President of basketball operations Magic Johnson felt the Pelicans didn’t negotiate in good faith during Anthony Davis discussions, Amick notes. The fact that specific trade packages were being reported throughout the process gives credence to those suspicions that other teams want to cause the Lakers grief.
  • While the Lakers could trade for Davis and/or land a top free agent, it’s also quite possible that they will strike out in those endeavors, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes. The future holds nothing more than “maybes” for the franchise and this disjointed season has given it a black eye, Pincus adds.