Should Rivers and Roberts Be Looking Over Their Shoulders?

Mike Stobe

Through 24 games, Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts have rotated as the team's backup point guard, yet neither has managed to separate himself from the other, thanks to a lot of mediocre play. It is conceivable the Pelicans may decide to go in a different direction altogether, especially if the franchise remains in the midst of a playoff hunt.

One possible avenue would be to sign Pierre Jackson (remember him?) to an NBA contract. The Pelicans, unbeknownst to a number of loyal NBA followers, still exclusively own his rights. So, even though he was drafted 4th overall by the Idaho Stampede, and is playing for the Blazers NBADL affiliate, New Orleans could decide to add the him to our team at any given time.

Why go this route? Well, if you haven't heard, Jackson is absolutely annihilating the Developmental League. Through 8 games, he is averaging 30.9 PPG (46.9/43.3/77.8 FG/3FG/FT), 3.3 3PTM, 5.0 AST, 4.3 REB and 2.4 STL. Yes, the 5 turnovers a game are troubling but an abnormally high usage is partially to blame (32.1%). Also, the ultra aggressive play has at least amounted to an eye-popping 10.1 free-throw attempts a game. His offensive rating (108.7), defensive rating (94.2) and TS% (58.2) all shine brightly too.

But his individual statistics may not be the best part -- the Idaho Stampede currently have a perfect 8-0 record. Their record last season was an abysmal 19-31 and the team has missed out on the playoffs four consecutive years. As you may recall, I wrote about Jackson over the Summer and was particularly enamored with him exhibiting a winner's resolve at every level. Lo and behold, it appears to be carrying over once again and don't be surprised if Dell Demps feels a sudden urge to bring the current #1 NBDL-rated prospect into the fray.

However, rather than entrusting a rookie help guide a playoff run, the Pelicans might decide to opt for a veteran. One name being floated around is Luke Ridnour:

Luke Ridnour started all 82 games last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks he has a limited role. In fact, in the last five games he has received three DNP-CD's.

...

The Bucks currently have the worst record in the NBA and will probably focus on playing the young players instead of giving minutes to the vets, like Ridnour. Larry Drew is using rookie Nate Wolters as the main backup point guard, which is a prime example.

Ridnour, making $4.42 million, is set to become a free agent in July and there is a good chance he won't end the season with the Bucks. He surely will draw interest from some playoff teams looking for help and could be had via a trade. Ridnour and the Bucks may also work out a buyout by March 1, so he is eligible for the 2014 playoffs.

Teams that might have interest in Ridnour include Atlanta, Chicago, Golden State, Memphis and New Orleans.

Before this season, Ridnour has usually been right around league average. Sadly, that would be a step-up from our current situation. In addition, Ridnour's grittiness would probably fit quite well under Monty Williams.

We're only through approximately 30% of the season, but Dell Demps may be pondering about upgrading the roster at some of our weaker positions. A lot could change in the following weeks, but Rivers and Roberts should be aware the Pelicans have options. As indicated by Tom Benson's off-season moves, winning is important and both of them aren't adequately performing.

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