Many assumed when Josh Childress was waived less than a week ago, the Pelicans might have been readying to make a deal. And, amid a number of rumors, sat Ryan Anderson -- despite the fact all the proposals made little to no sense.
Well, it appears Dell Demps was up to something, but it didn't involve existing NBA players changing locations. Rather, he has ventured overseas once again, looking to sign his third European player in as many years:
French center Alexis Ajinca is finalizing a buyout with Strasbourg of the Euro League and is on the verge of a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources told CBSSports.com on Tuesday.
The Pelicans and Strasbourg have agreed on the standard $575,000 buyout under NBA rules, though agent Mark Bartelstein said there are "a couple more steps" that have to happen before the deal is official.
The website SuperBasket.org first reported the agreement sending Ajinca, the 20th pick in the 2008 draft, back to the NBA.
Ajinca, 25, is expected to sign a two-year, fully guaranteed deal for the league minimum, league sources said.
Ajinca hasn't played in the NBA since the 2010-11 season for both Dallas and Toronto. He was in the midst of his third season in Europe, most of it spent with Strasbourg IG in the French Pro A League. He was having another fine season averaging 13.9 PPG, 6.9 REB and 1.5 BLK in league play (12 games) and 17.1 PPG, 5.4 REB and .9 BLK in Euroleague competition (9 games). For years prior, click HERE and choose the desired season.
At first glance, the numbers aren't eye-popping, but when you realize that both stat lines were compiled in under 25 minutes of playing time per game, things start to look a whole lot better. Add the fact he stands in the neighborhood of 7 feet and 2 inches and he's only 25 years of age, there exists a good chance he could eventually crack the rotation.
Alexis Ajinça 2012-2013 mix (via Kon Basket)
In watching some footage, the first thing you'll notice is he relies on his wingspan significantly more so than bulk or athleticism. In fact, he's just as apt to lay it in than dunk the basketball. This tendency, along with not appearing to look for contact, could be problematic. Also, let's hope he's learned how to set some proper screens since last year (don't think I saw a single one in the entire video). Otherwise, Monty Williams might learn French just to make sure Ajinca understands he's about to be taken to the woodshed.
Regardless, he's a legitimate seven footer, an area the Pelicans aren't blessed with a dearth of talent. And don't forget how fortunate we've been to be able to rely on Jason Smith, not known for his ironman abilities. At a minimum, expect Ajinca to get a chance to prove himself alongside the rookie, Jeff Withey, and the underwhelming Greg Stiemsma. Hopefully, he'll be able to provide a similar impact of his European predecessors, Gustavo Ayon or Brian Roberts.