Tuesday's Bird Feed: Russdiculous, Free Agency and More

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

- Even though he's yet to play a single minute in uniform, is Russ Smith beginning to grow on anyone else? The more I read about him, the more intrigued I get. Several days ago, Jim Eichenhofer posted a nice read over at Pelicans.com. Here is a good-sized excerpt:

Overlooked as a high school player, Russ Smith was barely recruited before he caught the eye of the University of Louisville. He went on to become one of the most accomplished players in program history, helping lead the Cardinals to two straight Final Four appearances and the 2013 national championship.

As a late second-round NBA draft pick, the 6-foot, 160-pound point guard will begin his professional career in similarly low-key fashion, having been chosen 47th overall, despite a thicker college resume than virtually every other draftee. Entering Thursday’s draft, Smith wasn’t even confident that he would be selected. In fact, he stopped watching portions of ESPN’s television broadcast, before tuning in again a few picks into the second round.

...

Following the 2013-14 college season, Smith said he worked out for "12 or 13 teams," but did not have a workout with New Orleans or Philadelphia.

"When I wasn’t picked (in the draft) by the teams I worked out for, I thought I was going to go undrafted," Smith told CardinalAuthority.com. "I basically accepted it and was ready to move on and get ready for free agency."

Smith noted that there were some guards he had hoped to match up against during his NBA workouts this month, but was disappointed to not be able to do so. During a May interview with the Boston Globe, Pitino warned that Smith was the type of player other guards would be wise to avoid during the pre-draft workout period.

"If you are a first-round draft choice and you are a guard and you’re at a workout camp and Russ Smith walks in, you’re telling your agent to get you the hell out of there," Pitino told the Boston newspaper. "That’s the type of kid Russ is. If he comes walking through that door, you want to say immediately, ‘My hamstring’s bothering me.’ "

- The NBA free agency period starts tonight at 11:01 PM Central. Will the Pelicans be active? According to Alex Kennedy, Dell Demps isn't anywhere close to being done yet this off-season.

One player I had hopes of chasing still appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream.

Ariza is coming off a very fine season so it should not be surprising the 29 year old has plenty of suitors. Many probably remember well both the highs and lows of his tenure in the Crescent City, but there was a good point brought up by Rohan several years ago in regards to Ariza'a offense:

I genuinely believe that the key to maximizing his production is by ensuring that he's not the primary perimeter option. Pair him with a player that can put the ball on the floor, that can drive to the rim, that's big enough to guard the two, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Ariza return to prominence.

Lo and behold, last season he spent the strong majority of his time on the court alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans wouldn't be that bad either...

- If you haven't heard, there was an interesting trade rumor floated over at the Pelicans Report. In essence, Minnesota supposedly approached New Orleans with a proposal revolving around Eric Gordon and Kevin Martin. Martin has 3 years remaining (approximately 7 million dollars a year) on his contract. If Minnesota loses Kevin Love and agrees to a deal aimed at the future, rostering Gordon could make more sense, especially if he opts out of his existing contract before the 2015-16 season. Remember, Dell Demps had Martin square in his sights before David Stern nixed the initial Chris Paul proposal.

- In case you're still in need of another positive in the Omer Asik deal, the Pelicans now have absolutely no need to look Andray Blatche's way. Not too long ago, there was decent support that our team should explore adding him to the roster during the upcoming free agency period. Today, we learned that Blatche likely hasn't matured enough from his Washington Wizard days:

He impressed higher-ups when he unilaterally banished Andray Blatche from the team in December. The Nets couched Blatche’s absence as due to "personal reasons," but Kidd really booted him out of concerns over his conditioning and preparedness, per multiple sources familiar with the matter. The timetable on Blatche’s absence was open-ended; Kidd told Blatche to come back only when he was ready to play. It was a suspension in all but name, and the organization privately applauded Kidd for taking a strong stance.

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