The New Orleans Pelicans have made their first move of the 2018 free agency period and it doesn’t involve DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo or help at the small forward position. Rather, the team has come to terms with Elfrid Payton on a one-year deal.
Payton will sign a one-year deal with Pelicans, a return to his hometown. https://t.co/2UWOKSCLBK— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2018
Payton, the 10th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, will be entering his fifth season. He has spent the majority of his career with the Orlando Magic but was traded at the last deadline to the Phoenix Suns. Payton has career averages of 11.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
Standing 6’4 and possessing a 6’7 wingspan, Payton has excellent size and length for a point guard but has thus far failed to develop as many had hoped coming out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He owns a career three-point shooting percentage under 30% — although he did manage a respectable 37.3% with the Magic last season — and his defensive prowess is regarded as being below average.
General Manager Dell Demps taking a chance on a local product is a bit surprising since Rondo was expected to re-sign with the Pelicans in free agency. While this news certainly doesn’t eliminate Rondo from consideration, it’s highly unusual to see two point guards who struggle mightily with their perimeter shooting on the same roster in today’s NBA landscape.
The Pelicans remain hopeful of re-signing point guard Rajon Rondo, league sources say, even after coming to terms tonight with free-agent guard Elfrid Payton— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 2, 2018
Perhaps the expectation is for Payton to learn from Rondo, and if the younger player improves significantly, New Orleans will look to re-sign him as their future point guard next summer?