After having a team in the 1970’s (The New Orleans Jazz), basketball came back to New Orleans in 2002, when the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans and became the New Orleans Hornets. This team, led by an MVP candidate in Chris Paul, would play in New Orleans until 2011 and have many postseasons runs, until the team would be bought out by the NBA, moving the Hornets back to Charlotte and paving the way for a new team: The New Orleans Pelicans.
In their first draft as the Pelicans, the team received the first pick and was able to draft big man Anthony Davis, one of the most promising young players that college basketball had ever seen. Behind a franchise cornerstone power forward in Anthony Davis and new ownership, the Pelicans were set to have a bright future for seasons to come.
Unfortunately, the Pelicans’ time with Davis was not very prolific, as the team would only have two trips to the playoffs, never ending above the sixth seed in the Western Conference. In those two playoff visits, the team was able to win only one series as they swept the Portland Trail Blazers. Both of their playoff losses would come at the hand of the Golden State Warriors dynasty. The team faced many problems during their time with Anthony Davis. Due to the small basketball market in New Orleans, the Pelicans struggled to bring in new talent to work with Davis and the team was forced to build through the draft and trades. The team would not draft any starting caliber players during their time with Davis and were starved of assets to trade for valuable players. Outside of All-Star Demarcus Cousins, who suffered with injuries in his two seasons with New Orleans, the team was not able to trade for any notable players. The team also seemed to lack consistent outside shooting every season, something that was necessary to have if building an offense around a big man such as Davis. This would all culminate in star Anthony Davis requesting a trade from the team to go to the Los Angeles Lakers. In return, the Pelicans got excellent young talent in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball and draft capital to build in the future. Now the Pelicans are one of the most promising young teams in the NBA and have a very promising road ahead of them, led by college sensation Zion Williamson and all star Brandon Ingram.
New Orleans basketball was involved in one of the biggest NBA controversies of post 2000s basketball, the infamous vetoed Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2011, the then four time all star Chris Paul requested a trade from the New Orleans Hornets and eventually the team came to an agreement that would pair up Paul with Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles through a three team deal with the Lakers and Rockets. However, at the time, the New Orleans Hornets did not have an owner and were technically owned by the NBA. David Stern, the then NBA commissioner, thought that the team was not receiving enough in return for Chris Paul and having no star on the team would make selling it not only much harder, but much less lucrative. This sparked controversy throughout the league and from the fans of the league, as many thought that this was an overreach of the NBA’s power since the GMs had all agreed on the trade. This trade would’ve set the Lakers up for championship contention in the twilight of Kobe’s career, which is why NBA fans are so opinionated over this scandal.
Ownership and Sponsorships
The New Orleans Pelicans are owned by Gayle Benson, and their stadium is sponsored by Smoothie King.