METAIRIE, La. (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans traded the rights Thursday night to its only NBA draft pick.
The Pelicans selected power forward Branden Dawson from Michigan State with the 56th pick before they sent his rights to the Los Angeles Clippers for cash, team officials said.
Dawson would have been Alvin Gentry's first pick as head coach. He is trying to build on a team that was knocked out of the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs 4-0 by eventual champion Golden State.
The Pelicans now could look to free agency beginning in July to build around star Anthony Davis.
Gentry already had limited ability to make a splash with his first draft in New Orleans. Thursday's only pick was the latest the Pelicans have selected since the franchise's inception in 2002. And it's only the second time New Orleans has had just a second round pick.
The Pelicans traded their 2015 first-round pick to the Rockets in 2014 to bring center Omer Asik to New Orleans. The 56th pick came to New Orleans this past season via a three-way trade that sent guard Austin Rivers to the Clippers and guard Russ Smith to Memphis in return for the pick and forward Quincy Pondexter.
The Pelicans will likely need to make some roster moves as free agency begins.
Asik is a free agent and will likely test the open market, leaving the Pelicans with a possible hole at the position should he not re-sign. Asik averaged 9.8 points and 7.3 points for the Pelicans this past season, starting 76 games.
The centerpiece of the Pelicans' roster is Davis, a two-time All-Star in just three NBA seasons, Gentry said.
Davis averaged a career-best 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game this past season. He single-handedly carried the team to wins several times, coming through with 41 double-doubles, 10 of which he scored at least 22 points, grabbed at least 10 rebounds and blocked at least five shots.
Davis is the only player on the current roster drafted by New Orleans. The rest are players acquired through trades or free agency.
Thursday's lack of draft picks isn't new. New Orleans didn't have any in 2014 and traded its only pick in 2013 to Philadelphia for point guard Jrue Holiday. In 2011, New Orleans traded its only pick to New York for financial considerations.
General manager Dell Demps walked through the media work room after the draft, and when asked for a comment, he continued walking, saying only, "It's going to be a good season."
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Posted on Mon, June 29, 2015
by The Lafourche Gazette