Quincy Pondexter is coming back to New Orleans. And Austin Rivers is leaving.
The NBA on Monday morning finalized a three-team deal that was first reported Saturday and first started unfolding Friday, bringing back Pondexter, who spent his rookie season with the New Orleans Hornets in 2010-11, and shipping out Austin Rivers, the 10th pick in the 2012 draft who never developed into a starter, to Boston — although Rivers is expected to eventually land with his father, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, in Los Angeles in a subsequent transaction.
The Pelicans also got a second-round pick, from the Memphis Grizzlies, after sending rookie guard Russ Smith to Memphis.
Also, the Boston Celtics traded forward Jeff Green to Memphis in exchange for veteran forward Tayshawn Prince and his expiring contract and a future first-round draft pick.
“We just felt like it was a trade that would help our team,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said before his team played at Boston. “Quincy is a guy we’ve had. He knows me. We’re always looking for wing defenders. We feel like we got one who can also knock down a shot.”
Pondexter, 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward, played in 30 games this season, averaging 4.5 points and 1.9 rebounds. In New Orleans as a rookie, he played in 66 games and averaged 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds. He has averaged 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in his career.
“The New Orleans Pelicans are thrilled to welcome back a high-character person like Quincy Pondexter to our organization,” Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps said in a statement. “Quincy is a two-way player, a multiposition defender that will add toughness along with an offensive skill set that we anticipate will help the Pelicans win games.”
Rivers, a 6-4 guard, was selected out of Duke. He has career averages of 6.9 points, 2.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds. He averaged 6.8 points, 2.5 assists and 1.9 rebounds this season.
Smith, a 6-0 guard from Louisville, was acquired by New Orleans in a draft-night trade in June after being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 47th overall pick.
Demps said it was difficult to trade guards Austin Rivers and Russ Smith.
“Russ was only with the team for a short time, while Austin is an intense competitor that is continuing to improve,” Demps said. “We will miss Austin and Russ on and off the court. We thank Austin and Russ for their contributions and wish them success in the future.”
Williams echoed that sentiment later Monday.
“We did put a lot into Austin. We wish him nothing but the best,” Williams said. “I feel the same way about Austin as I do many of our guys. … When they have to leave, it’s emotional. Austin is no different than Trevor Ariza or Willie Green, Jarrett Jack, guys that have been in our program and moved on.”