A Summer Update on the New Orleans Pelicans
By Mario Jeréz
Click aqui para español->Los sucesos del verano de los New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory. Despite a season-ending injury to all-star DeMarcus Cousins, the Pels swept the Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It was the second post-season triumph in team history, and the future looked bright. However, the team was eliminated quickly in the second round, and they’ve already lost multiple players to other teams this summer. Meanwhile, they’ve also added some new players.
Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo signed a one year, nine-million-dollar contract with the Lakers. The Pelicans didn’t have the necessary funds to make a better offer, and they lost their starting point guard. Rondo averaged 12.2 assists per game in the 2018 playoffs, ranking first in the NBA. Following Cousins’ devastating Achilles injury last season, the Pelicans deemed resigning him too risky for the salary he wanted. Cousins went on to sign a one-year deal with the Warriors. In two seasons, the Pelicans had a 31-28 record with him in their line up.
With Cousins and Rondo leaving, the Pelicans had to act fast, and they signed a couple of promising young players. Forward Julius Randle agreed to a two-year contract with New Orleans. The 23-year-old is coming off his best season with the Lakers, averaging 16 points per game, and he was heavily recruited by Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis. The Pelicans also signed New Orleans native Elfrid Payton to a one-year contract. The 24-year-old point guard averaged 12 points and six assists per game for the Suns and Magic last season.
Rondo’s leadership and elite passing abilities will be tough to replace. The Pelicans have already had success without Cousins, but, when healthy, he’s an elite player, and time will tell if letting him walk was the right decision. The good news is New Orleans will still return its two best players in Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Also, the team can still make some minor roster moves before next season. But to replicate last year’s success, the Pelicans will need the new arrivals to make significant contributions.