With no selections in this year's NBA Draft, it was uncertain if the Pelicans would be making any moves to get back in. The first round dragged on with no action from New Orleans, but GM Dell Demps dialed up a familiar trade partner in the 76ers to obtain the 47th overall pick Russ Smith out of Louisville.
New Orleans sent back to Philly the rights to Pierre Jackson, who was part of the Jrue Holiday draft night trade last year with the Sixers.
The Pelicans net a point guard who averaged 18.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2 steals per game for the Cardinals last year while earning First Team All-American honors. He is also known as a staunch defender, which Pels head coach Monty Williams will absolutely love.
One thing is for sure about Smith: he feels slighted by being passed over by so many ballclubs and will enter his rookie campaign in New Orleans with a huge chip on his shoulder. DraftExpress.com had him rated as the 28th best overall player in the draft, which would have made him a late 1st round draft pick. Hopefully the others teams' neglect winds up being the Pelicans fortune!
It doesn’t seem as if draft night in the NBA will be very eventful for the home team as the Pelicans do not hold a 1st or 2nd round pick. Their first rounder was sent to the Sixers as part of last year’s draft day trade for point guard Jrue Holiday and what ended up being the rights to Pierre Jackson. The 5 ft 10 point guard out of Baylor played in the Developmental League and in Turkey last year.
But wait! GM Dell Demps has reportedly been working the phones trying to jump back into this year’s draft as he could be feeling the hot seat to field a ballclub that can make it to the postseason:
Pelicans aggressively trying to trade into 1st round in hopes of drafting a small forward or center, sources say.2014 1st dealt in Jrue deal
Small forward is the definitely the glaring need for this ballclub as they seem to have addressed the center position (see below). The biggest issue last season was injuries. The roster was decimated losing key players like to Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith with season ending injuries early on. Even Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon missed time at least 10 games each. So obviously health is really the teams’ biggest need this season.
As for trading back into the NBA draft, I’m not quite sure what assets the Pelicans would be willing to offer that would appeal to another team. The rumors of Jrue Holiday being on the block seem ludicrous to me as I believe he is a key part of the franchise building a champion. Trading him would be like saying the franchise made a mistake last year by dealing away two first rounder’s for him.
Another name frequently mentioned is Ryan Anderson. I don’t see this happening either, for two reasons: 1) His 3 point shooting ability was sorely missed a year ago and the Pels are just a better team WITH him. The threat of the long ball really opens up things inside for Davis. 2) Anderson’s status is still a bit of a question mark. He suffered a serious back injury, had surgery and will hopefully be back to his normal self come the start of camp, but it’s still an unknown. That’s a big red flag for teams interested in him and I don’t think New Orleans would be able to recoup his true value.
Don’t even mention Eric Gordon. While fans and the team would love to deal the often injured shooting guard, no one is willing to take on the reaming two years of his max money contract. It seems as if we are stuck with Gordon, like it or not. The Pelicans may regulate him to the role of 6th man since Tyreke Evans thrived when put in a starting role.
That really leaves Pierre Jackson and future draft picks as the remaining ammunition. Jackson played well in the D-League and overseas. He caught the attention of the basketball world when he set an NBA Development League record with 58 points in a game and is chomping at the bit for his chance in the pros.
And as for future picks, Yahoo Sports reported late last night that the Pels with be sending a protected 2015 1st round draft pick to the Houston Rockets for center Omer Asik. The Rockets are also sending over $1.5 million to New Orleans as part of the deal.
This move gives the team the big man they’ve been searching for to pair up with All-Star Antony Davis. Asik is 7 feet tall, 255 pounds and is a staunch defender and elite rebounder. The deal cannot become official until July due to league rules.
King James has 2 rings but he and the Miami Heat were demolished in the NBA Finals in 5 games this year by the Spurs. San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich decided he would count his actual championships at their victory parade yesterday.
Atlanta is hurting at the inside linebacker position after losing Sean Weatherspoon to a ruptured Achilles earlier this month, and may look at Vilma for some depth.
The former Saint turns 32 years old in April, and has battled knee injuries for much of career. He spent all but one week on injured reserve last season.
Vilma will come cheap, and the 3 time Pro Bowler would add some veteran leadership to a relatively young linebacking corp. He really isn't a good option for production on the field though, but the Falcons must be pretty desperate at this point.
Vilma signing with the ATL will only add to the hype when the Saints face the Falcons week one in the Georgia Dome.
Even with the departure of Darren Sproles, the Saints running back corp remains loaded with talent this year. Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson headline the group, while Travaris Cadet is entering his 3rd year with the team, and is looking to expand upon his role, which has been limited thus far.
Out of the four guys I just mentioned, only Ingram was selected in the NFL draft. The other three are all undrafted free agent finds by the team.
“It’s just like Coach Payton says; it doesn’t matter how you get here, it’s what you do when you are here,” says Cadet. “It’s all about gaining respect in the locker room and from the coaches.”
So far, Cadet has really just been involved with special teams on the Saints. He has acted as a returner and also covered on kicks. But, now that Sproles is gone, Cadet could easily be that pass receiving threat out the backfield.
“I just try and take advantages of my opportunities. You know, I’m here for a reason; I’m not here by mistake. I don’t want to waste any days, because the day that you waste you can never get back.”
Now, Cadet is a much bigger player then Sproles. He stands 6 ft 1, 210 pounds, but has a similar skill set. He is fast, elusive and a great pass receiving threat out the backfield.
So, could Cadet run basically the same plays as Sproles?
“I think a year ago, I don’t know that I would have been able to tell you that,” Coach Sean Payton responded. “The focus for him was the running game per se. That element with regards to running routes and catching the football, he would be further ahead, but we saw him last year as a guy who transitioned into someone that we handed the ball to. That’s something he’s worked hard on. He’s a guy with good hands, he’s sudden with a good change of direction, and I think that is one of the things we’ll look for in this upcoming training camp. He’s been able to do a lot of the things we’ve asked Darren to do in the passing game. You just keep building on that. He’s a good young talent.”
Cadet hasn’t seen much action in 2 years in Black and Gold though. He has just one carry - one career carry - for 5 yards, with 7 receptions for 49 yards and 1 touchdown. His standout performances in organized team activities and mini-camp need to carry over into the preseason in order for him to have any hope a gaining a more active role in the offense.
Cadet seems ready of the challenge though.
“I feel like if you dedicate yourself to whatever you do in life, you put the overtime in and you don’t get complacent though success and through hard times, you’ll be the player God wants you to be.”
San Francisco wanted to get a contract extension done with QB Colin Kaepernick before training camp, and the news today is that they have done so, and in record-setting fashion. The 49ers have inked Kap to a 6 year, $126 million dollar deal with ….wait for it….$61 million guaranteed!
That $61 million is the most guaranteed money ever given to a player in one contract. OK, so he owns a 21-8 record as a starter, and has lead the Niners to 3 straight NFC championships, but he really regressed last year in his 2nd full season.
He completed just 58% of his passes in 2013 for 3,197 yards and 21 TDs/8 INTs. Drew Brees in 2013? 68% completion percentage, 5,162 yards and 39 TDs/12 INTs.
I point this out because I am straight-up tired of hearing from some Saints “fans” say #9 is overpaid, and his big contract is hurting the team. In 2012, Brees singed a 5 year, $100 million dollar deal with $60 million guaranteed.
It’s the market for the position, folks! What do we constantly hear? It’s a quarterback-driven league. Well, if you want to have one of the best (which Brees indisputably is), you gotta pay up.
Is Kaepernick one of the best? I dunno 'bout dat. He is still just 26 years old, and on a team that is chock full of talent and should be a perennial contender. But me, I’ll take the proven commodity over potential any day. Especially one that is a Super Bowl MVP.
Like I said, this move has been expected for quite some time now. The Saints said goodbye to Brian De La Puente this offseason, and have young guard/center Tim Lelito currently as their starter. Lelito is just in his 2nd year and could use Goodwin’s mentoring.
Goody is 35 years old and I believehe can still be a quality starter in the league. I will say, though, it is quite interesting that no other teams have had any interest in him. He spent the last 3 years in San Francisco after leaving the Saints following the 2010 season.
The signing just makes a ton of sense. He is a 12-year vet who can help as a player/coach, he knows the Saints' offense, and has familiarity with QB Drew Brees.
Expect Goodwin to get a one year, maybe two year deal with New Orleans. ESPN NFL Nation reporter Mike Triplett is reporting that the deal is already done and that we can expect an official announcement from the team on Tuesday.