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New Orleans Pelicans sit tight at trade deadline, look for free agent guard help

But don’t worry, they’re still the deadline winners!

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans-Press Conference Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the run up to the trade deadline with a bang, the New Orleans Pelicans were unable to make additional deals before the 3 PM EST deadline passed. DeMarcus Cousins was by far the biggest name moved this week and now Dell Demps gets onto the delicate task of tinkering a roster suddenly thin in the back court. However, this is his strong suit as a GM so fans should be excited. Trawling the depths of the D-League and Europe for serviceable depth is Dell’s wheelhouse!

The departure of Buddy Hield (previous starting shooting guard), Tyreke Evans (previous reserve point guard), and Langston Galloway (bench mortar specialist) means there are plenty of minutes available beside Jrue Holiday while the arrival of DeMarcus Cousins will drain many of the minutes formerly used by Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas.

Terrence Jones, a Dan Fegan client (who also represents both Cousins and newly acquired Omri Casspi), is looking for minutes to earn himself a payday this summer as it became clear after the trade he would need to be moved to accommodate those wishes. Keeping Boogie’s agent happy, and serving the needs of their players, is one of the way the Pelicans can maintain positive relationships with agents around the league so waiving Jones provides additional positive returns beyond simply opening a roster spot.

As ESPN’s Justin Verrier reported not long after the deadline passed, the Pelicans were unable to trade Jones so they were forced to waive him.

New Orleans had one roster spot already open after the uneven trade with the Sacramento Kings, one they filled by signing Hollis Thompson to a ten day contract yesterday afternoon. By waiving Jones they create another open roster slot. They have a small amount of the room exception remaining from this summer, the bulk of it was used to re-sign Tim Frazier. This will allow the Pelicans to offer a contract to a free agent or recently waived player above the minimum.

Up front, the rotation will be Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins with Dante Cunningham and Donatas Motiejunas off the bench. Solomon Hill and Omri Casspi (if he’s healthy) will hold down the majority of the small forward minutes, with Hollis Thompson as an additional option if he’s able to stick on the roster. At guard, things are a little more dicey with just Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, and Tim Frazier.

New Orleans has already been attached to interest in D-League guard Quinn Cook, who played well for the Pelicans during the preseason including an impressive 20 point, 8 assist outing against the Houston Rockets in China. Cook worked out for the Pelicans on Tuesday along with Thompson, Reggie Williams, and Mario Chalmers.

Beyond signing Quinn Cook the Pelicans could try to work the buyout market. Deron Williams may be bought out by the Dallas Mavericks soon, but I suspect he would be looking higher in the standings than New Orleans. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess at who is brought into the roster spot.

From a long term perspective, getting Hollis Thompson and Quinn Cook on longer (this year and next or more) minimum contracts (or slightly above minimum using the remainder of the room exception) could help fill out the bottom of the roster with low cost competence. Combine those two with Cheick Diallo (I’m even more excited about his potential now that he should never have to play center with Cousins on board) and the Pelicans would have enough cheap, youngish talent available in future years.

This may take a couple days to come to fruition so do not be surprised if the Pelicans go into tonight down a player. The Houston Rockets will have just 10 players available tonight. We’ll have additional coverage as the news breaks.

Now, who is ready for the debut of Boogie Cousins in New Orleans? Less than four hours to go!