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The Bird Calls Podcast Ep. 134: Outcome of 2018 NBA Draft could dictate DeMarcus Cousins free agency and New Orleans Pelicans Summer League additions

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The Dallas Mavericks selection of Luka Doncic could prove a thorn in more ways than one.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Draft night was relatively quiet for New Orleans. No trades, salary dumps, and cash were sent out from the offices located on Airline Highway. Instead, the Pelicans did something they rarely do — they sat pat in the second round (at the 51st selection) and selected Penn State scoring guard, Tony Carr — and General Manager Dell Demps is rather excited about watching how his potential stacks up against NBA competition in Las Vegas next month.

“He’s a guy who’s been on the radar for us,” Demps said. “Bryson Graham, our director of scouting, was really talking about him, all the way back to the Nike camp last year. We like his size, we like his ability to make plays, his IQ, that he’s 6-5. We’ll see him in summer league and are really looking forward to that.”

“We think he can play multiple positions,” Demps said of Carr. “He’s got a pretty good frame. I don’t want to get too excited about it. I want to see what he does when we get him in here live, see how he reacts with our coaches and when we put him in a pro system, against competition.

“He’s got a big hill to climb. There is no guarantee that he’s on our roster this year. He might be a guy we do different things with (roster-wise). Not sure. The important thing is not to get ahead of (ourselves). He’s going to have to come in and compete. We’ll give him every opportunity to be successful.”

For a point guard, Carr does have nice size which includes a 6’9 wingspan, but he will be expected to prove his versatility if he hopes to earn a contract from the Pelicans — and likely a two-way deal at that.

The bigger story of the night for the Pelicans this past Thursday, however, might have been the draft day trade between the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks were poised to select Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic, and ultimately did, but with a greater purpose in mind. Atlanta waited for Dallas to select scoring sensation Trae Young and then flipped the two in exchange for a future first round pick.

This spells possible trouble for the New Orleans Pelicans. According to Michael Scotto of the Athletic, as well as the Sporting News, the Dallas Mavericks’ will be the chief competitor in the DeMarcus Cousins sweepstakes in July. If you may remember, Oleh highlighted this potential scenario at the start of the month.

The Mavericks were said to be targeting Texas giant, Mo Bamba. The seven foot two, seven foot ten wingspanned giant can routinely knock down jumpers from the perimeter in addition to blocking out the sun for driving rim crashers. But with Doncic in the fold, the center position is still very much a need for the Mavs. A lineup of Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes might be enticing enough to seduce Boogie to the Longhorn State.

Dallas, one of the two expected suitors along with Los Angeles, is still said to have interest in Julius Randle and DeAndre Jordan — should he opt out of the final year of his contract. Set at $23.9 million, it is not fully expected that he will.

Now as we continue with the assembling of the Summer League roster, the Pelicans’ Tony Carr is set to be joined by the Pelicans’ former second round picks, Frank Jackson and Cheick Diallo.

Diallo was one of the bright spots in Vegas Summer League last year, and he will look to build on that success against a new crop of talent in Mo Bamba, Marvin Bagley III, Deandre Ayton, JJJ, Wendell Carter and more.

Jackson, who finished his freshmen season at Duke with a stress fracture, has suffered through three foot surgeries and has yet to register a single minute of regular season or exhibition professional basketball. It will be interesting to see how much explosiveness the young man possesses coming off of what could potentially become a career-threatening injury.

Charles Cooke, the Pelicans two-way player in the 2017/18 season, should also be expected to participate next month. He will need to show significant improvement if he seeks to earn another contract from the Pelicans.

Walt Lemon Jr. will make his return and will look to perform better than he did in his five appearances last season. The G-League All-Star scored just 17 points in 35 total minutes as part of his two ten-day contracts. He looked a bit overwhelmed as he failed to outrun or out-jump NBA competition, but he did manage seven points in 12 minutes against Washington. He will need to shine to get a second look with the Pelicans in training camp.

Next up, the Pelicans will trot out the following new additions:

  • D.J. Hogg of Texas A&M is the most intriguing of these prospects. The 6’9 three-and-D wing has the size and shooting stroke to earn an extended look at the Thomas and Mack Center next month. Aggies Coach Billy Kennedy, claimed the swingman is capable of playing the two, three or four, as well as chasing offensive players out on the perimeter. However, off the court actions kept Hogg from earning a draft night phone call, as he was suspended on two separate occasions.
  • Scoring guard Trevon Bluiett of Xavier has the versatility and penchant for scoring that could electrify Pels fans at Summer League. While not the most athletic player, Bluiett is decisive, intelligent, and does not shy away from contact. He knows how to make the extra pass and has a sturdy frame to challenge scoring guards and wings on the perimeter. From DraftExpress:

Despite his relative inexperience, Bluiett has already proven to be a jack-of-trades thanks to his combination of skill, intelligence, and competitiveness. Making 35% of his set shots and 41% of his pull-up jumpers, the 19 year old does not have great mechanics as a shooter, but was reliable up until the end of the season nonetheless. Lacking great quickness and ball handling ability, Bluiett is strong with the ball and decisive when he puts it on the floor. Shooting an above average 54% around the basket, his lack of explosiveness hurts his finishing ability, but he isn’t afraid to initiate contact.

  • Bryant McIntosh is Northwestern’s single game, single season, and career leader in assists. The four-year starting point guard was a notable distributor at five assists per game, to go along with his 12 points, but turned the ball over far too often at 2.6 per game. His shooting stroke took a dip during his senior year at 38% and 33% from three, but a sore shoulder could have been the culprit as McIntosh shot 36% from three in his freshmen and sophomore seasons.
  • Derek Willis, of the University of Kentucky, is not expected to receive an invitation to training camp after going undrafted in 2017. The Detroit Pistons gave him an extended look in last year’s Summer League, but the former Wildcat managed but three points per game. He showed significant improvement in his time in the G League, where he achieved 12 points and seven rebounds along with his 35% three point shooting, yet it wasn’t enough to earn a second invitation from the Pistons this summer. And with comments like this, his NBA career may be coming to a close before it begins:

The Pelicans are set to kick off Summer League in about two weeks time with three nationally televised games on ESPNU and NBATV.

Join Kevin Barrios, David Grubb and I, as we discuss the Mavericks’ draft implications, impending free agency, Pelicans’ Summer League additions, and much more!

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