In the days after the trade with Houston for center Omer Asik, Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps was reminded a few times that the trade had some details to iron out.
“It has not been finalized yet,” he said.
On Thursday, the NBA’s moratorium on completing trades and signing free agents had ended, but the Asik deal still was not official.
With Demps trying to shave money to fit in Asik, the NBA’s official salary cap number didn’t help, coming in $135,000 lower than expected at $63.065 million for next season.
The Pelicans are at about $54 million for next season. Asik will be paid $8.4 million next season, but that’s with only nine players under contract — not counting forward Luke Babbitt, on whom the team has an option for his final season.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are antsy about clearing space to sign a big-name free agent, eyeing power forward Chris Bosh.
Demps is looking to make a trade without giving up one of his core players — Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans or Ryan Anderson.
Meanwhile, other teams, most notably the Knicks and Lakers, are seeking to trade for Asik.
Putting in work
Before and after the summer league team practiced Thursday, Davis was at the facility, working on shooting and offensive moves.
That’s not all he’s been working on. Davis, getting ready for Team USA practices and ultimately the regular season, looks noticeably more muscular — particularly in the shoulders and arms. He has been lifting weights since the season ended, working around a camp and promotional trip to China.
Also on the court was Evans, working with assistant coach Fred Vinson on refining his shooting mechanics and touch.
Evans shot free throws with only his right hand, letting the ball rest in his palm then arcing it to the basketball and making sure he had a good follow-through. He later took shots inside the lane, from 10 feet, shooting with his right hand but bringing his guide left hand to the ball before he released it.
Coach Monty Williams said during the final week of the season that the team would work on improving the shot of Evans, who is excellent at driving to the basket.
Center Alexis Ajinca was expected to be on the Pelicans’ summer league team, and his bio was even included in the team’s summer league media guide.
But Ajinca didn’t participate in the team’s four days of practices in New Orleans.
Ajinca, who joined the Pelicans in late December last season, has a year left on his contract for $981,084, and could be caught up in moves to clear cap space.
Point guard Russ Smith, drafted in the second round by the Pelicans, received a guaranteed contract from the team, his former coach, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, told that city’s media. Second-round picks usually have to make the team during training camp to secure their deals. ... Power forward Samardo Samuels will not accompany the summer league team to Las Vegas. He is being replaced by Eric Buckner, a power forward from Georgia State. ... Small forward DeQuan Jones has not participated in the Pelicans’ practices. He has been playing on the Indiana Pacers’ summer league team. However, Gates said Jones will join the team in Las Vegas.