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New Orleans Pelicans recall Frank Jackson, likely in search of much-needed spark as well as reaction to burdensome injury report

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The Bird Calls Podcast: Episode 162

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was quick!

The New Orleans Pelicans assigned Frank Jackson to the Texas Legends in hopes that the young ‘rookie’ would see action in about six games over a two week period. After just one week and three games, Jackson has been recalled to the active roster.

It’s not shocking given the circumstances.

The Pelicans struggled mightily to score against the NBA’s best unit in the Boston Celtics and tired legs abounded. The short-handed Celtics trotted out a squad without five key rotation pieces, and yet that was more than enough to keep a Pelicans squad, who were missing three of their own, rather easily at bay.

The Pelicans face off against the Western Conference leaders in the Oklahoma City Thunder (17-8), and probably won’t stand a chance without some much needed help on the offensive end. Outside of Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis and Julius Randle, the Pelicans are without a floor spacing creator anywhere else on the roster.

Desperate times called for desperate measures on Monday night, as head coach Alvin Gentry turned to Ian Clark against the Celtics. The combo guard came in ice cold, having seen less than three minutes of action in five previous games, and in 17 minutes, he put together a hapless 0-point performance on a head-shaking 0-5 night.

Without Elfrid Payton, E’Twaun Moore or Nikola Mirotic, the Pelicans truly have holes at every position. But they do have a wild card in Jackson. Jackson brings the size (6’3), athleticism and relentless motor to wake the fatigued Pels (17 games in 30 nights).

Jackson is mistake prone and plays at a speed often too fast for his mind to react. He will take bad shots, and commit costly errors. Smart defensive teams like the Thunder will capitalize in transition early and often on each of them.

But Jackson is also fearless. He has a lightning quick trigger from the perimeter, and could in time marry the scoring volume of a Jordan Crawford with the dogged defensive energy of a Cheick Diallo.

What he lacks is the instinct and experience. The Pelicans thought to afford him that opportunity with the Legends, but after averaging 29 points, four assists and three rebounds in three games of action, the young man could be ready to give the Pelicans some of the production they need while they await the return of both Moore and Payton to full health.

So, what does this mean for the future of Ian Clark?

Hard to tell, but the Pelicans have afforded him opportunities to redeem himself in the past after early season slumps. It paid off handsomely last March and April when Clark averaged 11 points in 24 minutes per game over the course of 19 contests.

But with dreadful shooting numbers to open another season and only three games of ten points or more, Clark could see a significant number of DNPs for the rest of the schedule if Gentry finds another solution.

What does it mean for Andrew Harrison?

Pelicans’ fans shouldn’t expect to see too much of Harrison. Considering he’s only received a few instances of garbage time minutes, he looks to be insurance in the event of further injuries. Playing on a two-way deal, it appears the Pelicans will utilize all 45 of his allotted days in the NBA until a healthy roster returns. After that, he will likely be waived so that he can find other gainful employment within the league and not be forced to spend time in the G League.

Will we see any of Trevon Bluiett this season?

It’s looking more and more like a redshirt year for the four-year Xavier product. He offers exactly what the Pelicans need in terms of scoring, floor spacing and positional versatility, but his skill on both ends is yet unrefined. Bluiett also missed the first five games of the season due to a back injury.

Bluiett has flashed high volume scorer potential, producing a 29-point effort for the Westchester Knicks in 27 minutes (10/16, 5/11 from three), but consistency on that end will prove a greater test. Shooting just 40.5% overall and 34% from three through 11 games in the G-League will not get it done.

After a senior year in which Bluiett scored 2,000 points and shot 41.7% from three-point range, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that Bluiett could be ready now, but the Pelicans don’t see it that way.

“A big thing I need to work on is defense,” Bluiett said. “They said out of everything, defense is the main thing you want to focus on. So that’s been something I’ve been trying to make sure that I’ve improved on from being out here.”

Read more about Blueitt’s progress here.

For more on Frank Jackson and the Pelicans, won’t you download our latest episode?

Featuring Oleh Kosel, Kevin Barrios and David Grubb, we discuss Jackson, the Pelicans loss to the Celtics and assess culpability for early season struggles as well as squash some cause for alarm.

Let’s geaux, Pels!