Pelicans Rumors

Pelicans Sign Trevon Bluiett To Two-Way Contract

JULY 17: Bluiett officially signed his two-way contract today, according to a photo published on his Twitter account.

JULY 12: Trevon Bluiett has turned an impressive summer league performance into a two-way deal with New Orleans, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Bluiett’s agent, Cervando Tejeda, confirmed the agreement to Charania.

Bluiett went undrafted out of Xavier after averaging 19.3 PPG during his senior season. He joined the Pelicans‘ entry in the Las Vegas Summer League and made an immediate impact, scoring 50 points in the team’s first two games while hitting 12 of 18 on 3-pointers. He was averaging 21.0 points per game heading into today’s contest.

The Pelicans will still have a two-way spot open once the deal with Bluiett is finalized. You can keep up with all the latest two-way deals in our 2018/19 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker.

Pels Hope New Additions Help Them Maintain Fast Pace

The Pelicans added a pair of young building blocks in Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton this summer and the new personnel could lead to an even faster pace of play, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

The addition of two athletic young players  – Randle is still just 23 years old while Payton is 24 – will serve the Pelicans well. Guillory writes that New Orleans led the league in pace after DeMarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles injury in January.

We want to play fast, we want to defend, we want to get out in transition,” Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said. “The other thing is these two guys are very unselfish players, which would fit great with our group.

Pelicans’ Draft Pick Tony Carr Headed To Italy

Pelicans second-round pick Tony Carr has agreed to a deal with Italy’s Fiat Torino, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune relays. The news was first reported by Sportando.

Carr has been playing for the Pelicans’ summer-league team. He’ll be coached by longtime NBA and college coach Larry Brown, who took the job with the Italian club last month.

Brown is notoriously tough on point guards, so Carr will get plenty of guidance on how to be a floor leader for a professional team. He’s struggled in summer-league play, averaging 7.0 PPG and 3.8 APG.

The Pelicans will retain his rights and be able to sign him next summer, Guillory notes.

The 6’5” Penn State product, the 51st overall pick, averaged 19.6 PPG, 5.0 APG and 4.9 RPG as a sophomore last season before declaring for the draft.

New Orleans has three other point guards on the roster, Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton and Frank Jackson.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Rondo, Doncic, Belinelli

Pelicans GM Dell Demps made his first public comments on the loss of free agents DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in an interview with Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate.

According to Demps, team officials met with Cousins on the first two days of free agency, but the two sides weren’t able to find “common ground.” Demps called negotiations with Cousins “respectful” and “cordial,” but said the uncertainty over his physical condition in the wake of a torn Achilles made it difficult to reach a deal. Cousins eventually signed a one-year contract with the Warriors for their $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception.

“The unknown of returning to play made it difficult for both sides to find a common ground,” Demps explained. “We enjoyed DeMarcus in New Orleans and wanted him back. We had multiple discussions with his representatives. It was just very difficult for us to find common ground.”

Rondo also headed west for a one-year contract, signing with the Lakers for $9MM after a single season in New Orleans. Demps hopes the intangibles that Rondo brought will influence other players.

“Ultimately, it was a tough situation because we had so much success with Rondo with his leadership and on-court presence,” Demps said. “We felt like we had a chemistry. Unfortunately, he’s not back. At the same time, we believe that his impact will stay with our team.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks made the correct move in holding first-round pick Luka Doncic out of Summer League play, writes Dwain Price of NBA.com. Doncic’s buyout with Real Madrid wasn’t finalized until Monday, and he would have faced a difficult adjustment in joining the team in Las Vegas after it had already played two games.
  • Manu Ginobili was among the first people to text congratulations to Marco Belinelli after he committed to return to the Spurs, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. That doesn’t guarantee Ginobili will be back for another season, but he’s glad to see his former teammate return after winning a title together in 2014. “We didn’t talk about [Ginobili playing], but I can say he was really happy about me coming back,” Belinelli said. “Winning a championship with that great team was amazing. Nobody is going to take that away from me.”
  • Rockets second-round pick De’Anthony Melton has turned in a standout performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Melton slipped to the 46th pick after not playing last season at USC, and he has looked like a steal so far. Melton struggled with his shot in the opener, but is 10 of 23 from 3-point range since then and has impressed the coaching staff with his defense and play-making.

Gentry: AD Wanted Boogie Back

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry denies that Anthony Davis didn’t want DeMarcus Cousins to return, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Cousins stunned the basketball world by signing a one-year, $5.3MM deal with the Warriors but it had nothing to do with his relationship with New Orleans’ franchise player, according to Gentry.

“Someone said A.D. didn’t want DeMarcus back, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the Pelicans’ head coach said. “I don’t know where that came about, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Pelicans Sign Julius Randle

JULY 9: The Pelicans have officially signed Randle, per the NBA’s transactions log. The team’s new deal with Ian Clark has also been finalized, according to the league’s list of official transactions.

JULY 2: The Pelicans have reached an agreement with Lakers free agent forward Julius Randle on a two-year, $18MM contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The second year will be a player option, Wojnarowski adds.

The acquisition of Randle would strongly suggest that the Pelicans are not confident in re-signing DeMarcus Cousins. At the very least, adding Randle would give them some insurance if Cousins signs elsewhere. Not only does New Orleans already have superstar Anthony Davis up front but also Nikola Mirotic, who was acquired from the Bulls and jumped into the starting lineup with Cousins sidelined by a season-ending Achilles injury.

Davis was instrumental in recruiting Randle to New Orleans, according to another Wojnarowski tweet. Randle had his rights renounced by Los Angeles per his request earlier on Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent. The Pelicans ironically lost free agent point guard Rajon Rondo to the Lakers shortly before the news of Randle’s agreement broke.

Randle’s opt-out will give him the opportunity to explore the free agent market once again next summer. Randle, a former seventh overall pick, averaged 16.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, and a .558 FG% in 26.7 minutes per game last season.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, may be poised to replace Cousins with Randle and Rondo with Elfrid Payton, who reached an agreement with the team on Sunday. The terms of the two deals strongly suggest that New Orleans will use its mid-level exception to sign Randle and its bi-annual exception to bring Payton aboard.

A two-year signing using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception would be worth about $17.7MM, which matches up with Randle’s reported $18MM agreement. The bi-annual exception is worth $3.382MM and would accommodate Payton’s reported $2.7MM salary.

Using either exception would hard-cap the Pelicans at $129.82MM for the 2018/19 league year, so while they could go over the cap to re-sign Cousins, their team salary would have to stay below that $129.82MM threshold. Taking into account Randle’s and Payton’s reported agreements, the Pelicans are at approximately $104MM in guaranteed salary for nine players. That total doesn’t include Cousins or non-guaranteed players like Darius Miller ($2.2MM).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Notes: Jackson, Bluiett, Payton, Trades

Pelicans guard Frank Jackson sprained his left ankle during summer-league action and will be out 2-4 weeks, according to Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge Advocate. It’s another injury setback for Jackson, an early second-round pick last June. He has yet to appear in an NBA game after undergoing three right foot surgeries. Jackson will make a guaranteed $1.38MM next season.

In other developments involving the Pelicans:

  • Rookie swingman Trevon Bluiett has shown a good shooting stroke in summer-league play, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Bluiett scored a combined 50 points on the team’s first two games while making 67% of his 3-point attempts (12-for-18). The Xavier product went undrafted and is trying to earn a roster spot. “He can really shoot, and I like all the shots he’s taking,” assistant coach Kevin Hanson told Guillory. “That’s the biggest thing: he’s got to be concerned about his shot selection. But he’s been good.”
  • Playing for his hometown team was an easy decision for point guard Elfrid Payton, Guillory writes in a separate story. Payton, the former Magic and Suns point man, signed a modest one-year, $2.7MM free agent deal to join a playoff contender. “The losing he went through was something different for him,” his college coach Bob Marlin told Guillory. “It’s hard when you’re a competitor and you get to a situation where you lose 50 or 60 games in a year and you’re not used to that.”
  • The team is likely to make a trade in the coming weeks, according to Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune. The current roster is solid but not enough to concern the top teams in the West, Duncan continues. The Pelicans would like to rid themselves of a bad contract (Alexis Ajinca, Solomon Hill) and improve the rotation, something that will aid their desire to retain Anthony Davis beyond the next two seasons, Duncan adds.

Warriors Sign DeMarcus Cousins

JULY 6th, 11:10pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JULY 2nd, 7:36pm: The rich are about to get richer, as free agent center DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a contract with the Warriors, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. It’ll be a one-year, $5.3MM deal, with the Dubs using the taxpayer mid-level exception to add Cousins, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

It’s a shocking move for both Cousins and the defending champions, who initially didn’t appear to be locks to use their mid-level exception at all. However, when Kevin Durant agreed to a contract with a starting salary of $30MM rather than his max of $35.65MM, it opened the door for the Warriors to take advantage of the savings by using their MLE, which is worth $5.337MM.

Signing Cousins will cost the Warriors exponentially more than $5.337MM due to their projected luxury tax penalties, but the investment figures to be worth it for one of the NBA’s very best centers. Golden State will now have the opportunity to play an incredible five-man unit consisting of Cousins, Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

The club also retains key contributors like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, and Quinn Cook, with youngsters Damian Jones and Jacob Evans expected to contribute as well.

While others Cousins suitors like the Pelicans and Lakers will undoubtedly be upset about seeing him sign with the Warriors for a salary they could have topped, it didn’t appear that New Orleans, L.A. or any other team was willing to make a huge offer for the big man, with cap space drying up around the league.

Of course, it’s also extremely unlikely that Cousins would have accepted a $5.3MM offer from any other team. No other club gives him as clear a path to his first NBA title, and as one source close to him explains to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link): “He’s about winning.”

Signing a one-year pact will also allow Cousins to rebuild his value after suffering a torn Achilles during the 2017/18 season. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Warriors have no intention of rushing their newly-added star back to the court, so a December or January return appears likely. If Cousins returns to form during the second half of the 2018/19 campaign, he’ll be able to reach the free agent market again a year from now and potentially land a more lucrative longer-term deal.

Before going down with that Achilles injury, Cousins was posting the best numbers of his career, filling up the stat sheet with 25.2 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.6 BPG. He also made 2.2 three-pointers per game at a 35.4% rate. Achilles tears aren’t easy to come back from, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever be the same player he was before the injury, but even if he’s operating at 60-70% capacity in 2018/19, he’ll make the already-stacked Warriors even more dangerous.

The move comes approximately 24 hours after LeBron James‘ agency announced that he’d be heading to the Lakers. While LeBron, Magic Johnson, and the new-look Lakers dominated much of the coverage during the first two days of NBA free agency, the Warriors’ latest splash signals that they have no intention of giving up control of the Pacific Division – or the Western Conference, or the NBA – anytime soon.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Re-Sign Ian Clark

JULY 9: The Pelicans have officially re-signed Clark, according to the NBA’s transactions log.

JULY 6: Ian Clark will re-sign with the Pelicans for one year at the veteran’s minimum, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports.

As our chart of 2018/19 minimum salaries shows, Clark will earn $1,757,429 for the season and the team will have a $1,512,601 cap hit.

Clark, 27, was a valuable reserve in his first season in New Orleans, posting a career-best 7.4 points per night in 74 games (19.7 MPG) and shooting 31.8% from 3-point range. He improved those numbers to 7.8 PPG and 35.7% in the playoffs.

The Pelicans are the fourth NBA stop for Clark, who signed as a free agent last summer after winning a championship with the Warriors. He also spent time with the Jazz and Nuggets.