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Great article articulating the pros of 'run it back', which I am 100% in favor of.  The quality pieces we have picked up this year (Q-Pon, DC, and Cole), and the growth of the ones we acquired after training camp last year (Ajinca and Babbitt), have made this option so desirable.  Also, the play of these 5 guys (and AD) say a lot about the ability of this coaching staff to develop players.  Imaging our top guys (AD, Asik, Holiday, Evans, Gordon, Anderson, Q-Pon, DC, Cole, Ajinca & Babbitt) all as better players next year, and Health and Continuity.  This team could be great, and possibly even elite at times next year.  I am hoping for that, too, Michael.

3 days, 11 hours ago on Should the Pelicans Just Run It Back Next Season?

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Babbitt, Ajinca, Cunningham, Pondexter, Cole, and Williams.  Dell brings them in and Monty plus them in.  Works for me!

2 weeks, 2 days ago on Davis Unstoppable as Evans goes down

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Besides Davis, the biggest thing tonight was Ajinca playing significant minutes, especially in the 4th Quarter, even with Davis back.  He and Asik do make a great C combination.  Next most significant thing?  Who had the highest +/- tonight?  Ajinca (+14), Cole (+13), and Cunningham (+11), and their minutes were 23, 27, and 19 respectively.  That say a lot about our bench (bring them back) and their style of play, especially when you contrast it to the Davis and Evans hero ball from the 1st team.

3 weeks ago on Davis returns and takes down Pistons

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The story tonight, as it has been for the last 6 games is guys stepping up.  Our top 10 players look very strong, when healthy.  Hope we can keep them and Babbitt, who is a nice guy to have in your bottom 5 players.  The only caveat is if we upgrade at SF, we will lose a guy like Cunningham which is too bad.  He can play PF and SF, and does so many things besides score.  If I am Dell, I am tempted to not bring in a SF this summer, and sign Cunningham and Ajinca in the MLE.

3 weeks, 2 days ago on Pels Fall Late to Mavericks

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@xman20002000

But how much? $10M over 3 years?  I'm in!

3 weeks, 3 days ago on Moleskin Moments: Pelicans Out-Ugly Nuggets for the Win

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Yeah!  This is what veteran  and quality NBA teams do, and what this Pelican's team hasn't done in the past: win against an inferior opponent on the road by putting on a 4th Quarter spurt.  We have all seen it before.  The Pelicans hang with a good team at home and the good team pulls away at the end.  Now our young team, without 2 of it's best 3 players and 3 of its best 4-5 players, just did that.  Pretty Cool.

3 weeks, 3 days ago on Moleskin Moments: Pelicans Out-Ugly Nuggets for the Win

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Can we take down the current "Monty Poll", put up way too early in the season, and wait until the end of the season to poll-evaluate Monty & Dell?  I bet a lot of people want to change their votes.  Current numbers? 40% C, 29% D, 15% F, 14% B, and 2% A.  It's very hard to understand the 44% voting F and D, and so many C votes, when we are 1/2 game out of 8th at this point in the season in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, or when looking at the big picture of our long-term pieces and the play of our "scraps" bench.  Now everyone wants to keep Ajinca, Babbitt, Cole, and Cunningham, and rightfully so.  Well Monty and the staff he assembled should get the credit for developing Ajinca and Babbitt.

3 weeks, 5 days ago on Pels Come from Behind to Win 4th Straight in Amazing Team Win

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@nolaboy76 @Michael McNamara Like Asik, AD (against the 2nd team) or Ajinca?

4 weeks ago on Pelicans take down Nets

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A lot of free agent to be Pelicans look like keepers: Ajinca, Babbitt, Cole, Cunningham.  Hope we can keep them.  And Q-Pon's contract looks like a great value, especially with the cap about to rise.

4 weeks ago on Pelicans take down Nets

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@Michael McNamara @504ever

In order for me to change my mind, someone has to show me who we can get that is better at the same price (NBA minimum for at least Babbitt and Jimmer, and possibly Ajinca).  

Also, Cole made an active effort to find Babbitt when Babbitt was open. Haven't seen as much of that prior to Cole's arrival.  May play out well in coming games.

1 month ago on Pelicans Prove Basketball Without AD Can Still Be Fun, Beat Raptors 100-97

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What this game says to me is the bottom of the roster is pretty good, especially at some of their salaries.  It would not surprise me to see the Pelican's retain all of Ajinca, Babbitt, Cole and even Jimmer.  (It's nice to bring a high percentage free throw shooter in close out wins.)  All but Cole, and possibly Ajinca, should play for the NBA minimum.

1 month ago on Pelicans Prove Basketball Without AD Can Still Be Fun, Beat Raptors 100-97

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Anticipating Part 3... 

You don't give up a 1st rounder for a one year rental.  Asik is definitely in the Pelican's plans and should be.  He is an elite rebounder, a rim protector, and a very good team defense player.  If that isn't enough, he extends Davis's career by keeping him away from punishment at C.  (Also, I think Asik playing a lot of basketball this summer may have worn him down. Remember his missing time for a back injury?  Time off this summer and coaching him up may improve his play on offense.)

There are no options on the free agent market close to Asik, and trading away a good player to get a good player is moving sidewards not forward.  So the only question is: What is a reasonable contract for Asik?

1 month ago on Optimizing Omer: Part 2

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Yet another classic Dell trade: trade something and get something better.

There is a quote from another sport which roughly says:  'The goal is to store up a whole series of small advantages and then to convert them into larger ones.'  That's Dell, and he rarely misses.

1 month ago on Pelicans Fill Backup PG Void with Trade for Norris Cole

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Well done!!

1 month, 1 week ago on Optimizing Omer: Part 1

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@Michael McNamara @504ever

That makes a difference, but I still think smoothing coming in summer of 2016, combined with Eric's contract expiring in 2016 and the cheap contracts we have for a 2016-17 (Tyreke, Jrue, & Q-Pon), patience is a reasonable path, too.

In my opinion, there is no way the Union accepts smoothing without it starting in the 2015-16 season.  You don't need an economics degree to see a simple and fair solution of pushing a dollar a year forward for every dollar you push a year back.  That way you smooth over three years and the cap goes up around $8M/year/team.  That's reasonable and deals with the Union's "player shelf life" concern.

1 month, 1 week ago on In the NO Podcast Episode 205: Trades!

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Doesn't this all depend on smoothing?  If the cap is smoothed, we get significant extra money to use this summer and we have the advantage of offering players a spot next to AD: pretty strong stuff. 

Further, our current roster isn't that far away from a playoff roster.  In fact you could argue if our current roster was our beginning of season roster, we are a playoff team now (even with injuries).  So adding a piece this summer (SF or PG) and trading Gordon (then a very valuable expiring) next year for at least one quality piece, is still a viable option.

1 month, 1 week ago on In the NO Podcast Episode 205: Trades!

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@6thMan

I agree Serge Eblocka was the difference tonight

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Pelicans Can’t Take Advantage of a Golden Opportunity

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Like the article, but lost you at the stat comparing Jrue and Tyreke.  This team has come a long way since Jrue last played.  It may be unrelated to Jrue, and Jrue joining the team as a starter may make the team better.  We all have to wait and see.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Pelicans Passing to Wins

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@MasonGinsberg Operative word is "healthy".  Also, we may need to limit Jrue's minutes when he returns.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Pelicans Halt Hawks’ Win Streak at 19 with Convincing 115-100 Victory

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This jumped out at me most: "a couple of bone-headed turnovers from Jimmer Fredette along with a few minutes for John Salmons who should never play another minute for the Pelicans ever".  I think all of Jimmer's 4 turnovers (including his botched defensive rebound) in 21 minutes lead to easy baskets for Atlanta.  

So we need Jrue back, a better backup PG, and Ajinca to play over Salmons?  Works for me.  Play of the rest  of the team looks like they are coming together nicely.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Pelicans Halt Hawks’ Win Streak at 19 with Convincing 115-100 Victory

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@6thMan I am not sure how healthy Asik is.  I know he is tough, and he played a ton of games in basketball's World Cup this summer.  I have always wondered if he is playing through some issues and that is negatively impacting his play this year.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Alexis Ajinca Making a Case for More Minutes

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Like this a lot, especially the 3 bigs idea.  

I think Monty and Dell have to play Ajinca more now, to see what they have, and I think Ajinca will play well.  Then, if you can't trade him for enough value (most likely), you resign him.  Guys who are 7-2 and rebound and blocks shots, yet have his offensive skill set are just too rare.  He has a 20.6 PER.  That is 5 PER more than Asik, and may point to letting Ajinca have a few of Asik's minutes, too, especially against certain matchups.  I think you resign Asik and Cunningham, too.  Then we see if you can get help at SF and backup PG.

I don't call Ajinca a luxury. I think he is a necessity if you are building a championship team.  Injuries, matchups, and off nights happen.  $3M-4M for 2-3 years sounds cheap to me for Ajinca under the new cap.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Alexis Ajinca Making a Case for More Minutes

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I still prefer Hollinger's playoff odds: http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/playoffodds

Good news, he projects us at 44-38.  The bad news?  In the West that only gives us a 40% chance of making the playoffs this year.  

In my opinion, if we played in any other Division in the West, we would make the playoffs this year.  When you play 4 games against everyone in the only Division in the NBA with all teams over 0.500, you are at a disadvantage compared to all teams in every other Division.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Pelicans Playoff Hunt – Not Quite There

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Great write up of a great, and surprising, team win.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Eric Gordon Leads Short-Handed Pelicans to Impressive 108-103 Win over Clippers

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When the Pelicans lost by 15 to Philly 10 days ago and this is written in the recap at BBS: "The team had 17 assists to 18 turnovers.  The starters had 10 assists to 14 turnovers.  There was no ball movement, and many, many ill-advised drives to the basket.  It was ugly" and there is no mention of AD and Jrue not playing as a factor, I expect the same treatment in this write up. No mention of the Philly lineup (that is one player away from the game 10 days ago), and legitimate praise of the Pelican's ball movement, especially considering how poor it was 10 days ago.  

More importantly, I think it undermines Monty when the progress the team has shown passing the ball in the last few games is discounted in the write up of this game.  In my opinion, at some point BBS has to take ownership of the discrepancy in how it presents the Pelican's success and failures, and has to manages BBS's writers' expectation of the Pelicans this season.  Again, in my opinion, a lot of the anti-Monty reader posting here is a reflection of the tone in what BBS writers post here.  It certainly looks like Monty is going to be the coach through the end of the season and, the way things look now, beyond.  Either management is less knowledgable about NBA basketball than BBS's writers, or the other way round.  

And if I am wrong about the BBS discrepancy, where is the article pointing out we are the only team in our Division, and one of only two in the Western Conference (with 36-6 Golden State), to have a winning record against every Division in the Western Conference?  That should at least balance out some of our ugly losses especially those with key players out.

I know balance can be difficult to strike but the only way it is struck is to discuss it, hence my post.

1 month, 4 weeks ago on Pelicans avenge 76ers loss

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Very excited by the win and our overall play, but our mid-4th Quarter blues and 8 man rotation tonight (especially with a back-to-back) concern me.  

Imagine this team if we can find one more Q-Pon or Cunningham at PG.

1 month, 4 weeks ago on It Happened, It Happened, Oh My God It Finally Happened

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Yes, and if you concentrate on Eric's last four games, the ones Jrue sat out, his per game stats look even better:  1.3 scoring efficiency, 17 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds.  Except for rebounds/game, Eric's stats are all much better than Alfalo's or Beal's.  No one knows what Eric's level of performance will be in the future, but it sure has been great for the team and a credit to Eric Gordon.  Maybe the Eric you all saw at the watch party was the real Eric, and he is a lot more together than any of us realized.

2 months ago on What Has Gotten Into Eric Gordon?

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Agree with all but Jrue part.

2 months ago on What Has Gotten Into Eric Gordon?

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Good to win when we effectively only played 9 guys and only got 15 from the bench.  It was interesting to see Ajinca out score, out rebound, and out block Asik in about 40% of the minutes.  (I like Asik, just think Ajinca brings something (offensive scoring efficiency, rebounding, and tonight blocks) to the table, too.  The last 5 games Ajinca is averaging 10 pts  & 8 boards while shooting 60% from the field!)  It was also interesting to see Cunningham and Q-Pon playing together.  We do need a PG with a better offensive game.

2 months ago on Observations: Pelicans take down Wolves

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After I wrote this I looked at Hollinger's rankings, which I like best, and Stein's rankings.  We were 13th and 14th in the league, respectively, but only have a 30% Hollinger Playoff odds.  In other words, take us out of the Western Conference and we are a playoff team.  I don't penalize us for being in such a tough Conference and Division.  Our Division still has only 1 fewer team at 0.500 or above than the entire (L)Eastern Conference.  Think about that.

2 months ago on New Orleans Pelicans’ Mid-Season Report Card

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I like this piece.  My disagreements involve the last three grades.  Adding Cunningham, Q-Pon, and ditching Rivers make me raise my bench grade to a C.  And I think that is fair when I look at benches league-wide.  I grade the team on absolute performance, not expectations, so I give a final grade of C+/B- since we are a middle of the pack team in the league, while in the Honors Conference and its AP Division.  That means Monte is doing a similar job.  As captain of the ship, and will a roster (much) worse than then teams ranked above us in our Conference, Monte gets a significant part of the credit for the team's performance.  So his grade should be more like C+/B-, too.

I never expected playoffs and thought we would finish 7th-10th in the West this year.  I think people expecting something more narrow, like playoffs this year, are more likely to have expectations influenced lower grades

2 months ago on New Orleans Pelicans’ Mid-Season Report Card

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Why did we only play 9 against the lowly Lakers, and what does that say about they guys who didn't play?

2 months ago on Pelicans Snap Out of It, Defeat Lakers

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@Michael McNamara @504ever @6thMan

You don't know until you try.

2 months ago on Let’s Talk About Ryno

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@6thMan @Michael McNamara

I do think our AA battery, Alexis Ajinca, should get a chance to energize this team each game, at Ryno's expense.  Ajinca's scoring efficiency was ridiculous against Toronto and Philly (and still .500 against New York).  He averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 points/shot in 28 minutes in those three games.  Imaging playing Ajinca 14 minutes/game and getting half of that production!

2 months ago on Let’s Talk About Ryno

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Comparing this game to the Philly game: we were on a back-to-back and still nearly won.  Those are two big differences. 

2 months ago on Pelicans Are The Pelicans, Lose To The Knicks 99-92

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More than anything else, this win was powered by a French made AA battery.

2 months ago on Moleskin Moments: New Orleans Pelicans @ Toronto Raptors

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The simple question is: Which is the problem, roster or coach?


You examined the coach, let's look at the roster.  What percent of other Western Conference playoff teams would our guys, besides Davis, start for?  Make your list and see if that points to the fact that we don't have the talent to be a playoff team now.   My list is below.  It totals 1 and 2/3rds positions out of 5 and points to Memphis as the only team we could complete with, which has been historically true.  That's not near enough to make the playoffs.  Period.  So the roster is the problem!

Davis 100%

Jrue 37.5%: Houston, Memphis, Phoenix

Tyreke 37.5%:  LAC, Memphis, OKC

Eric (0%): OKC (but would chose Tyreke at SG)


By ever measure I know of, we are on schedule in our rebuilding process.  That tells me fan expectations, not team performance, is the problem.

2 months, 1 week ago on New Orleans Pelicans Issues Go Beyond Monty Williams

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Rorschach inkblot test is a test to see what the viewer is bringing to a situation and games like this are just  Rorschach inkblot tests to me. 

You know, how is it sensible to say the Pelicans lost without their two best players so fire the coach?  Did OKC do that earlier this year?  And what about the roster?  What percent of other Western Conference playoff teams would our guys, besides Davis, start for?  Make your list and see if that points to the fact that we don't have the talent to be a playoff team now.   My list is below.  It totals 1 and 2/3rds positions out of 5 and points to Memphis as the only team we could complete with, which has been historically true.  That's not near enough to make the playoffs.

Davis 100%

Jrue 37.5%: Houston, Memphis, Phoenix

Tyreke 37.5%:  LAC, Memphis, OKC

Eric (0%): OKC (but would chose Tyreke at SG)


And what about Phily?  If you think for one second they didn't know they actually had a chance to win, if only because our two best players were out, and played their hardest because of it, you don't know sports or human nature.  Other (L)eastern Conference teams must feel the same way when they are at home.  Our young team hasn't learned how to win on the road.  Give them time.  The Pelicans are on schedule, or ahead of schedule, based of every historical model of NBA rebuilding I know. 


Patience, Grasshopper, patience.

2 months, 1 week ago on Road Woes Hit New Low, Pels Lose by 15 to Philly

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@Pelican Poster

You have to balance Detroit's 9-1 with their playing their last 8 games in 12 days.  Maybe scheduling helped us here?

2 months, 1 week ago on Pelicans Outplay Pistons from Start to Finish in 105-94 Victory

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Out rebound opponents by 17!  Good games from finds Q-Pon and Jimmer(!)  Four players in double figures, five if you add in Asik's handicap of +2.  That's a nice game.

2 months, 1 week ago on Pelicans Outplay Pistons from Start to Finish in 105-94 Victory

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This players on this team are young and hasn't figured out how to win on the road against weaker teams.  How many games on the road against weaker teams to we have to see to figure that out?

And for all you Monty bashers. Monty didn't commit a turnover, didn't injure Jrue, and didn't fail to be an offensive presence not named Davis, Gordon, or Evans.  

These teams were tied at halftime in spite of Boston having 9 more shots.  Why? We shot much more efficiently.  When our efficiency advantage disappeared, so did the chance to win.  Missing open shots (a longer term Pelican problem) is the players' fault.

2 months, 1 week ago on Observations: Boston beats Pelicans

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@xman20002000

That's not my point.

2 months, 2 weeks ago on Pelicans Fall to Charlotte: Observations

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@bigezking

You're talking about Sean Payton before the Super Bowl season, right?

2 months, 2 weeks ago on Pelicans Fall to Charlotte: Observations

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@Michael McNamara @504ever

But with what currency do you use to swing for the fences?  Pelican player(s)?  Cap space $s and playing next to AD as a lure for someone in free agency?  And maybe the transcendent player is already on the roster.

I don't disagree with the idea of a big move, but first are the steps I outlined above. Then Dell reevaluates.  (He may give those moves a year to evaluate, which means Gordon's contract expires around the same time as that evaluation.)

Gordon is the key to bigger future moves, and his cost/value is in a range that has parameters: moving Gordon for the next 6 months will cost a 1st, moving Gordon 1+ year from now as an expiring will bring in assets.  So Dell will only move Gordon near term as the first step in a bigger deal, otherwise the opportunity cost (what you could have gotten for Gordon if you waited until he was an expiring, or his contract actually expires) are too great to pass up.

And let's not forget Dell is the master at finding 2nd teamers for nothing.  Finding another Anthony Morrow type player this summer would do a lot for this team, too.

Finally, there is something to be said for roster stability for a year, after all of this roster turnover.  Let all of the prior big moves get digested before the next one.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on MythBusters – New Orleans Pelicans Have More Flexibility Than You Think

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We need a quality starting C, pure and simple.  Simple question: Who can the Pelicans get that is better than Asik, how much money will they have to pay him, and how many assets will they give up to get him?  I like Asik objectively and in the context of this question.  Further, with the team's salary structure, Asik may be all the C the team can afford.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Evaluating Project Asik-and-Destroy

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To me, the passing by the Pelicans versus the Rockets was a direct result of seeing the excellent passing and off ball movement by the veteran Spurs team the previous game, and the Pelicans (players and coaches) understanding that was the direction this team needs to move.  Here is hoping that is the case.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Observations: Pelicans crush Rockets

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@mvpmb10

Don't forget the cap is about to go way up!

2 months, 3 weeks ago on MythBusters – New Orleans Pelicans Have More Flexibility Than You Think

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My hope for next offseason is to sign Asik to a 3 year deal at around $11M/year and get a good "3 and D" SF for the MLE on a 3 year deal.  (If we need the cap space for a known move, we trade Gordon and our 1st pick or possibly stretch Gordon. I would be fine with retaining Gordon; he in an expiring next season.)  We also need to upgrade the bench.  I am hoping we resign Cunningham, and OK with signing Rivers, Babbitt, Ajinca, and Jimmer to a cheap contracts.  Salmons' spot goes to the new SF and we still have one more roster spot (two if we move Gordon) to add a quality wing or backcourt player.  

My belief is management knows the name of the game is to build a team around a very young Anthony Davis. So they will be patient and not make any desperate moves.  

In Dell I Trust.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on MythBusters – New Orleans Pelicans Have More Flexibility Than You Think

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Our Big 3 (Davis, Holiday & Evans) are still what propels us.  They got better than normal help from Asik, Anderson, and Jimmer.  (Jimmer had 4 assists, too, all of them quality.)  Cunningham was his normal self on defense and we needed it; I hope we sign him to a second contract.  It all added up to a close, hard fought, win in Conference.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Phoenix Suns Fall to New Orleans Pelicans 110-106

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Jimmer!

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Pelicans Scoop: First Trimester Review

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