Pelicans trade rights to guard Pierre Jackson back to the Philadelphia 76ers in a swap for Louisville's standout guard Russ Smith.
Russ Smith from Louisville was selected by the Pelicans in the first round.
Andy Lyons / Getty Images
By Jen HaleFOX Sports New Orleans
The New Orleans Pelicans relied on a familiar trade partner to get back into Thursday night's draft. The Pels traded the rights to guard Pierre Jackson back to the Philadelphia 76ers in a swap for Louisville's standout guard Russ Smith.
The 76ers took the NCAA champion known as "Russdiculous" in the second round with the 47th pick.
"He's a champion and has won a lot of games," General Manager Dell Demps said, referencing Smith's NCAA championship with the Louisville Cardinals. "We're excited to bring him into the program. He's a dynamic player. He's a 2-way player, and that's what we're excited about."
Smith appears excited as well.
Thursday night, he tweeted out:
IM SOO HAPPY #NOLA GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY .. LIVE FOR OPPORTUNITY !!!
Last year, New Orleans and Philadelphia also did business: The Pelicans gave the 76ers this year's first round pick in exchange for point guard Jrue Holiday and the rights to Jackson, whom the 76ers took with the 42nd pick this time last year.
Smith is 6'1", 160-pounds and has 4 years of collegiate experience, including that NCAA Championship, under his belt. No doubt Coach Monty Williams appreciates Smith's reputation for aggressive defensive and speed. He averaged 18.2 PPG for the Cardinals last season.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a fan as well, tweeting out his support for Smith Thursday evening:
The Pelicans are still waiting to finalize a deal to bring center Omer Asik to New Orleans from Houston. The team needs to clear enough cap space to close that deal, as well as resolve one unidentified sticking point.
"We are in conversations, but the deal has not been finalized," Demps said. "That's the only thing I can say about that."
The Pelicans also remain in the market for a small forward.
"That's no secret that it's a position we're looking at," Demps said. "We're going to do everything we can to improve this team."
Smith, a 6-foot point guard, stayed all four seasons for the Louisville Cardinals. He averaged 18.2 points this past season, hitting 46.8 percent of his shots from the field.
Despite the draft night trade, the Pelicans still need to secure enough cap space to make Wednesday night's trade work to acquire Houston Rockets center Omer Asik, they could still look to trade either Eric Gordon or Austin Rivers.
A deal could occur in the next few days leading into the July 1 free agency period.