If you haven't driven by the Pelicans training facility in Metairie for over the last week or so, you would have probably missed the 'Centers Wanted' billboard on the property. As The Bird Writes has mentioned ad nauseum, players at the five position have been dropping like flies this preseason, and with the replacement options apparently not shining brightly enough, Demps continues to throw darts at the globe in his office being spun by Alvin Gentry.
This time around, the Pelicans have ventured across the pond and signed Mirza Begic of Laboral Kutxa Baskonia of the Spanish ACB League. Before anyone gets too excited and wonders if he may be another diamond in the rough a la Gustavo Ayon, Begic is 30 years old.
This isn't to say the 7'1'' former member of the Slovenian National team is a complete slouch. Far from it. He is an accomplished player who won multiple All-Star awards in both Slovenia and Lithuania. He has been crowned a champion in his professional career, and individually, was regarded as one of the best shot blockers in Europe.
However, let's be real: his best days are in the rear view mirror. The Pelicans are not looking for, nor should they be, some young uber-prospect. What they need are preseason bodies with experience, preferably from a faster tempo, more perimeter-orientated background. Hence, the Begic signing most likely represents another unguaranteed contract.
Omer Asik is not expected to miss much, if any, regular season games, and Alexis Ajinca's timeline is not that much further behind. Granted, I bet Demps wishes Jeff Withey was still on the roster, but the Pelicans campaign won't be derailed because of their top two centers sustaining most of their absences during the exhibition season.
In reading about Mirza Begic, I did come across one instance that I simply must share with you all. In a Euroleague game almost two years ago, Begic mixed it up -- actually, that's not the proper verb -- brawled with our old friend, Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
How many solid shots did Pops take? I think I counted three. That's good considering how often the U.S. thinks of European bigs as soft.
Let's just hope he doesn't end up getting into a scrum with Kendrick Perkins. One, for his own safety, and two, because Perk is the Pelicans last true standing center. Now that is a scary thought.