With the sudden news of Lance Stephenson requiring surgery to repair a groin injury (and the fact his partially guaranteed contract cannot be waived until he’s healthy again), the New Orleans Pelicans could be in line to add another player to the roster in three games time via the hardship exception. Per Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement:
A hardship can be deemed to exist when a team has four players who are sick or injured and have missed at least three games, and will continue to be unable to play.
I had originally assumed Jrue Holiday would not qualify under the rule like Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter and now Stephenson because he was not ‘sick or injured.’ According to Bobby Marks, however, NBA rules are more forgiving than anticipated and should allow Jrue to qualify because of Lauren’s surrounding health circumstances.
Even though Jrue Holiday is not out with an injury, the PG should fall under the exception rule based on the circumstances with his wife.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) November 6, 2016
So, if Holiday, Evans or Pondexter are still not available to play in a week’s time, Alvin Gentry could have a new player at his disposal for the November 12th game against the Lakers.
With the second best ball handler now suddenly unavailable, the New Orleans Pelicans will likely seek to add the services of another guard. Here are six potential candidates.
Quinn Cook — Cook appeared in three preseason games for the Pelicans, including one stellar performance against the Rockets where he poured in 20 points, 3 threes and 8 assists. Having some knowledge of Gentry’s system and the fact that he knows Anthony Davis, last year’s D-League rookie of the year should probably be considered the favorite.
Archie Goodwin — Goodwin was waived unexpectedly by the Suns at the end of preseason and has yet to sign with another team. Admittedly, some of the luster is gone since entering the league because he has proven to be little else than an inefficient scorer, but at just 22 years of age and possessing a wealth of athleticism, he might make a worthwhile flier for a Pelicans team that may soon have to abandon legitimate postseason hope.
Spencer Dinwiddie — Dinwiddie has great size (6’-6’’) and was considered to be an effective defender with the Pistons last season. He performed well for the Bulls in exhibition play, as evidenced by a 19-point, 6-rebound effort in 23 minutes against the Pacers, but consistency issues have plagued him in his short NBA career.
Mario Chalmers — If Chalmers has recovered sufficiently from a torn Achilles, he could make for a sneaky add for the Pelicans. He played well for the Grizzlies last year (10.8 points and 3.8 assists) before going down with the scary injury. FWIW, he predicted an imminent return to the league just a few days ago.
Ronnie Price — Price is 33 years of age, but he played for Gentry and the Suns during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. Although he can’t shoot a lick, Price is a veteran who might be able to step right in behind Tim Frazier and keep the offense flowing from off the bench for a few games.
Russ Smith — Dell Demps thought highly enough to trade for Smith during the 2014 Draft, and the front office may be interested in him again after watching him tear up the D-League last year, which included this 65-point effort.
There are other older veterans like Pablo Prigioni and Jarrett Jack sitting on the free agent market, but I can’t imagine that this current group in New Orleans would be interested in either of these guys. Besides, Jack is probably not ready yet to contribute immediately as he was scheduled to miss the start of the regular season with the Hawks had he made the team.
If the Pelicans are granted an injury exception, which player would you like to see the team add to the roster for a likely short-term stay?