The New Orleans Pelicans are finally looking to fill their final roster spot now that Quincy Pondexter is set to the miss the entire season, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. New Orleans has had an open spot since dealing guard Ish Smith to the Philadelphia 76ers for two second-round selections last month.
Charania reports that Pondexter is scheduled to undergo season-ending knee surgery left knee surgery on January 20. The six-foot-seven small forward has not played this season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in the offseason, although the team recently announced a one-to-two week return timetable for him.
Pondexter was taken with the 26th pick in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder and traded to New Orleans on draft night. He was traded to Memphis following his rookie season but was reacquired by the Pelicans in a three-team last January.
Pondexter has played in 279 career games and has averaged 5.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in five seasons. He had his best season last year and averaged 9.0 points and 3.1 rebounds after being acquired by New Orleans.
Charania added that New Orleans will likely consider several players with the ability to play on the wing such as Elijah Millsap, Orlando Johnson, and Bryce DeJean-Jean.
Millsap was waived by the Utah Jazz on January 5 instead of guaranteeing his contract. He signed a three-year non-guaranteed contract and would have had his $845,059 salary fully guaranteed if he remained with the team, per Fox Sports.
Millsap appeared in 20 games this season, averaging 1.8 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.7 minutes of action. The 28-year-old shot 28.2 percent from the field and 8.3 percent from beyond the arc. In his rookie season last year, Millsap averaged 5.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.7 per game.
Millsap, the younger brother of Atlanta Hawks’ Paul Millsap, is very athletic and an outstanding individual defender who gets a ton of steals. He is a slasher who excels in transition. However, he often freelances too much on the defensive end and struggles with his perimeter shot.
Johnson has spent the entire season in the D-League with the Austin Spurs and is currently ranked as the league’s eighth best prospect. The 2012 second-round selection is averaging 15.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 50.7 percent from the three-point line in 32.7 minutes of action.
Johnson does have some NBA playing experience, appearing in 96 games with Indiana and Sacramento, although he hasn’t played in a regular season game since the 2013-14 season. The six-foot-five wing averaged 3.2 points along with 1.7 rebounds in 10.6 minutes of action per game during his NBA stint.
Johnson is long and athletic and can score any number of ways. He is a jump shooter who is most effective behind the arc, as he struggles around the basket and in mid-range. Johnson is better off the catch than bounce.
Dejean-Jones had a very impressive summer league campaign with the Pelicans and was rewarded with a training camp invite, averaging 12.8 points in 21.6 minutes per game while knocking down 61.9 percent of his shots from the floor and nine of his 18 (50 percent) three-point attempts.
The six-foot-six undrafted guard out of Iowa State was also solid during training camp, averaging 8.8 points in 18.2 minutes of action. However, the rash of injuries New Orleans were dealing with persuaded them to cut Dejean-Jones prior to opening night.
Dejean-Jones is currently tearing up the D-League with the Idaho Stampede, who are affiliated with the Utah Jazz, averaging 18.5 points and 5.7 rebounds in six games. He is rated as the D-League’s 18th best prospect.
Dejean-Jones is lanky and athletic with the ability to be a very good defender. He is also excellent in transition and a very good cutter. However, he is a jump shooter who doesn’t shoot the ball that well, making just 38.5 percent of his 15 field goal attempts with the Stampede and 33.3 percent of his three-point tries.
Other possible options include Tony Wroten, who was just released by Philadelphia after the team acquired Ish Smith, or D-League prospects Toure’ Murry, Jordan McRae, Devin Ebanks, and DeAndre Liggins.
[Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]