According to Jordan Schultz, a Yahoo sports analyst, the New Orleans Pelicans are one of three teams interested in the restricted free agency of Rodney Hood, the Cleveland Cavaliers most perplexing playoff performer.
Hood’s name should ring a bell — but it shouldn’t come from Kevin Barrios professing his love in the article titled, “The perfect complimentary piece to the Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins puzzle.” Rather, an infamous incident during the playoffs put Hood squarely in the spotlight. After watching his role dwindle in the 2018 postseason, it came to a head when he refused to enter Game 4 of the Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors series.
As first reported by The Athletic, Hood refused to check into Game 4 when Cavs coach Tyronn Lue attempted to sub him in during a timeout with 7:38 remaining in the fourth quarter and Cleveland up 110-80.
While The Athletic reported that several of Hood’s teammates were “angered” by his decision and that the organization could consider suspending him, a team source told ESPN on Tuesday that suspending Hood was “not even a thought.”
Hood was not suspended for his behavior, but he failed to register an impact for LeBron James and the Cavaliers again until Tyronn Lue found himself grasping at straws in the Finals against the Golden State Warriors. While Hood acquitted himself well enough in those last two games, his positive contributions on the Utah Jazz were a more common event. He was averaging a career-best 16.8 points to go along with 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 threes a game before Cleveland decided on a roster face-lift that saw the team also add George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. before the trade deadline.
As far as what General Manager Dell Demps and his staff might see in Hood is an opportunity to buy low on a player who recently was considered to have a promising career ahead. After witnessing an undersized backcourt of Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore regularly be forced to compete against taller competition, the Pelicans are desperate to add length on the perimeter. Darius Miller had a nice showing in his return to the NBA, but it’s improbable to think he’ll ever amount to anything more than a passive role player. The same can be said of Solomon Hill despite his sizable contract.
Hood could follow suit in disappointment — he’s close to a one-dimensional scorer and his defensive abilities are questionable at best — yet at 25 years of age and standing a listed 6’8, the Pelicans might have few better opportunities to sign a scoring small forward. Hill and Miller have never averaged double digits in field goal attempts (FGA) per 36 minutes in the Association. Meanwhile, Hood was averaging 18.3 FGA with the Jazz during the 2017-18 season, and even his meeker 13.5 FGA with the Cavaliers ran laps around Hill and Miller.
If the Pelicans re-sign Rondo utilizing the Midlevel Exception, New Orleans is primed to be on an incredibly tight budget for the rest of free agency. Following Hood’s turbulent times in Cleveland, the Cavaliers may be ready to move on while the rest of the league might not feel Hood is worth the investment. This could be a good situation for the Pelicans to pounce on a player that may only need a change of scenery.