The roster reads "New Orleans Pelicans," but don’t be fooled.
Friday’s release of the team’s Las Vegas summer league roster features just a handful of players expected to make it to training camp and several who are just hoping to make a positive impression.
But summer league play is built for this, quickly mashing together a variety of players from a variety of backgrounds into one unit for one short exhibition tournament.
And the man orchestrating it all is new as well. Pelicans assistant Jamelle McMillan will get his first opportunity at being a head coach, leading the summer Pelicans when the team tips off in the event against the Toronto Raptors at 5 p.m. July 7 in Cox Pavilion.
That’s the first of the team’s three scheduled games, which set up seeding for a winner-take-all single elimination tournament.
While there are many intriguing names on the roster, McMillan won’t get a chance to work with the franchise’s 2017 draft pick. Former Duke guard Frank Jackson, whom the Pelicans traded up to select at No. 31 last week, is still recovering from an offseason procedure to his right foot and is not medically cleared to play.
“My rehab is going great, and I think I’m only a few weeks out here of being 100 percent,” Jackson said. “Surgery went wonderful, and the healing process is good. I’m just excited to get to work and get going.”
Forward Cheick Diallo, who will make his second summer league appearance with the franchise since being drafted in 2016, headlines the roster. Diallo, a second-round pick, spent last season bouncing between the Developmental League and the Pelicans but is expected to be a mainstay of the NBA roster this year.
Longtime NBA veteran Jordan Crawford is the most experienced member of the summer squad. The 28-year-old guard averaged 23.3 minutes for the Pelicans in the second half of last season, earning the nickname “Instant Grits” thanks to an ability to heat up quickly and averaging 14.1 points despite coming off a two-year absence from the league.
They’ll be joined by point guard Quinn Cook, who spent the final two months of the season with the Pelicans, playing sparingly as the team’s last guard in the rotation. This year, Cook is likely to be penciled into the main roster from the start, considering the team traded Tim Frazier to the Washington Wizards last week.
“We like Quinn,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “But we like Tim, too. We just looked at it as a situation where we had an opportunity, and it was nothing negative against Tim. We are just trying to complete our roster, and sometimes to do that, you have to trade guys you like.”
The only other player who finished the season with the Pelicans is swingman Axel Toupane, who was added for the final two games of the year.
There’s a familiar name among the newcomers hoping to use the fortnight in Las Vegas as a springboard to NBA careers: Jaleel Cousins, whose brother is All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, will get a chance to impress the team enough to join his sibling in a Pelicans uniform.
And there’s no shortage of uplifting stories, highlighted by Sudan native Peter Jok. The 6-foot-6 swingman led the Big Ten in scoring last season, producing 19.9 points per game for Iowa.
Before heading to Las Vegas, the Pelicans will hold a four-day minicamp at the team’s Metairie facility starting Monday.
The Pelicans released their roster for the Las Vegas summer league Friday. Here are three things to know:
1. One voice
Pelicans assistant coach Jamelle McMillan will handle head coaching duties throughout the tournament. It’s the first time under the Alvin Gentry regime that the team has opted to use just one coach; previously, it switched between assistants midway through summer league.
2. Diallo drive
Cheick Diallo showed off some of his skills last summer with the Pelicans and will be a primary focus for fans this July. Last year, Diallo left Las Vegas ranked third in rebounds (9.4 per game) while averaging 10.2 points.
3. Oh, brother
While headlines stacked up about the possibility of the Pelicans adding the sibling duo of Jrue and Justin Holiday in free agency, another teammate’s brother will be wearing a Pelicans uniform in Las Vegas. DeMarcus Cousins’ brother Jaleel, a former South Florida center, is on the summer league roster.
Summer league roster
10 Mashawn Chamberlain G/F 6-4 210 Fort Wayne Flite (CBA)
2 Quinn Cook G 6-2 179 Pelicans
9 Isaiah Cousins G 6-4 191 Reno Bighorns (G League)
25 Jaleel Cousins C 6-11 255 Reno Bighorns (G League)
27 Jordan Crawford G 6-5 195 Pelicans
13 Cheick Diallo F 6-9 220 Pelicans
14 Peter Jok G 6-6 205 Iowa (NCAA)
52 Jalen Jones F 6-7 Maine Red Claws (G League)
34 Sanjay Lumpkin G 6-6 220 Northwestern (NCAA)
4 Jordan Mathews G 6-4 203 Gonzaga (NCAA)
45 Royce O’Neale F 6-6 215 Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain)
35 Kaleb Tarczewski C 6-11 245 EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (Italy)
6 Axel Toupane G/F 6-7 210 Pelicans
1 James Young G/F 6-6 215 Celtics
Pelicans summer league schedule
Friday, July 7: vs. Raptors, 5 p.m.
Sunday, July 9: vs. Hawks, 3 p.m.
Monday, July 10: vs. Nets, 5 p.m.