The Pelicans signed Alexis Ajinca to a four-year, $20 million contract. They signed Solomon Hill to a four-year, $48 million contract. They signed Omer Asik to a five-year, $60 million contract.
But their worst signing might have been giving Kendrick Perkins a one-year, minimum-salary contract in 2015.
BACK IN 2015, NBA journeyman center Kendrick Perkins landed in New Orleans, where he would play one season alongside Davis on the Pelicans. On the road, the two would frequently break bread together, and their dinner conversations would often turn toward James, whom Perkins had played with on the AAU circuit as a teenager. They were also teammates in Cleveland during James’ second stint with the Cavs. During those dinners, Perkins would gush about the four-time MVP’s focus and preparation.
“I used to brag about Bron a lot with him,” Perkins says. “He really didn’t have to ask me [about James]. I was doing more of the talking.”
In the summer of 2018, when word got out that Davis could be looking for a new agent, it was Perkins who introduced Davis to Klutch Sports.
Of course, Davis signed with Rich Paul then requested a trade. Paul steered Davis to LeBron’s Lakers.
To be fair, Perkins isn’t solely responsible. The Pelicans repeatedly failed to build a winner around Davis. They also play in small-market New Orleans, which makes it more difficult to retain stars. Davis is responsible for his own choices.
Still, it’s easy to see Perkins planting a seed. And to think the Pelicans paid him to do so! Veteran mentorship is rarely what it’s cracked up to be. Everyone has their own interests, and those don’t always neatly align with their current team’s goals.
Otherwise, this story would’ve stung even more.