Pelicans releasing Stephenson because of roster limitations
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Pelicans signed veteran guard Archie Goodwin on Monday and waived injured guard Lance Stephenson, whose agent said the move stemmed from roster constraints and there are ''no hard feelings.''
''They had no interest in letting Lance go, that's for sure,'' said Stephenson's agent, Mark Bartelstein, adding that Pelicans general manager Dell Demps ''has gone overboard to make sure Lance knows how much they value him and how much they'd look forward to having him back.''
Bartelstein said Stephenson will have surgery to repair his torn groin in Philadelphia on Tuesday and likely will remain there for at least the first couple of weeks of a rehabilitation period that is estimated to last about two months. The Pelicans also have invited the 6-foot-5 Stephenson to conduct rehab at the club's New Orleans-area headquarters if he wishes to do so.
''It's unfortunate because I think Lance did everything we asked him to do. He was playing really good basketball,'' coach Alvin Gentry said before a game at Golden State. ''It's unfortunate for him the injury came. Just to clear up a little bit, we had to waive him in order to have a spot to have somebody else come in. We couldn't get an injury exception because technically Jrue (Holiday) is not injured. That's how that whole thing played out. It had nothing to do with Lance. He's been a model citizen and a good, good player for us. Hopefully when things go through and the operation goes through and he gets healthy, we'll see how everything goes.''
New Orleans signed Stephenson this past offseason to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract worth about $1.2 million. He played in New Orleans' first six games, averaging 9.7 points, 4.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 27 minutes per game.
''Obviously, it's disappointing for Lance because he was playing so well,'' Bartelstein said. ''He really liked it there.''
New Orleans has two regulars - guard Tyreke Evans and small forward Quincy Pondexter - who are trying to come back from knee injuries and have guaranteed contracts. Meanwhile Holiday is on leave while his wife recovers from brain surgery performed last month, weeks after she gave birth to the couple's daughter. The fact that Holiday is absent while healthy makes it harder for the Pelicans to lobby the NBA for injury exceptions that would allow more than the usual league limit of 15 players on the active roster.
''Because of the rules and the roster limitations and the injuries, and also what they're going through with Holiday, it just put a crunch on their roster,'' Bartelstein said. ''This has nothing to do with economics at all.''
The Pelicans will cover Stephenson's rehab and pay him at least until he's healthy, Bartelstein said.
Stephenson is ''going to be back in the league as soon as he gets healthy, probably sometime in the next couple months, and he could very well be back with the Pelicans,'' Bartelstein said.
The 6-foot-5 Goodwin, a fourth-year pro out of Kentucky, has averaged 6.2 points in 150 career NBA games - all with Phoenix - since 2013.
Goodwin was able to join the team in time to be available to face the Warriors.
''Great athlete, he's just a young player that needs that experience of being on the floor,'' Gentry said. ''He's still trying to find himself in this league but great young man, very athletic. He has some areas he has to improve in but hard-working kid, so we're lucky to have him.''
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.