Seth Curry aced his summer-league test.
For eight days in Las Vegas, the young guard resembled his older brother (and reigning MVP) Stephen Curry, becoming a fan favorite at the Thomas & Mack Center, complete with myriad autograph and interview requests.
At one point, an “M-V-P!” chant came down from the stands when Curry stood at the free-throw line. Still, his tournament-best 24.7 points per game weren’t enough to earn the Pelicans a chance at the championship; New Orleans fell to Phoenix 93-87 in the semifinals Sunday night.
The Pelicans’ 5-1 record was important to new coach Alvin Gentry’s staff, which installed a new system and maximized the talents of a roster that didn’t feature a single player on a guaranteed NBA contract. Assistant coaches DarrenErman and Robert Pack traded off head-coaching duties, and each earned plaudits from Gentry for their work.
But it meant even more to Curry. The former Duke standout was named first-team all-summer league for his performance and caught the attention of just about every coach, scout and general manager who lined the two gyms on UNLV’s campus.
Maybe most significantly, he reaffirmed the opinion of Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps, who praised Curry’s work this summer and even admitted he nearly signed him last offseason but ultimately ended up going in a different direction (signing Jimmer Fredette as a fifth guard). So Curry waited patiently for an opportunity to put on a Pelicans jersey, and he made the most of it.
Now he’s leaving Las Vegas as one of the hottest free agents on the market.
“I just needed to show what I’m capable of and that I’m capable of contributing in more ways than just shooting 3s,” Curry said. “I had to get creative and find ways to score on floaters and getting to the rim, so that meant as much to me as just the fact I was scoring is how I was able to do it.”
And while summer league is far from a bellwether of future NBA success, many of the exhibition’s scoring champions have gone on to establish themselves at the top level. In the past 10 years, Lou Williams, Jerryd Bayless, J.R. Smith, Randy Foye and Anthony Randolph all piled up points in the summer league.
Now it’s up to Demps and the Pelicans to see whether they want to bring Curry back to New Orleans when training camp opens in October.
“He’s been very impressive,” Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon said. “He plays just like Steph. He’s very creative and shoots the ball very well, and this style of play also helps him. He’s been lighting it up, so I’ve been enjoying watching him play.”
The Pelicans officially signed forward Luke Babbitt to a contract Monday.
A season after posting the best 3-point percentage in the NBA at 51.3 percent, Babbitt signed a two-year, $2.25 million deal, sources close to the team told The Advocate.
Despite his prolific outside shooting, he only averaged 4.1 points in 63 appearances and 19 starts.
Babbitt is one of four unrestricted free agents to return to New Orleans this offseason, joining Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca and Dante Cunningham.