After having some type of history tied to every number so far in the 0-12 progression the New Orleans Pelicans finally skipped a number with the unlucky 13 and in doing so started to make the list of players to wear numbers shorter and shorter. That fact starts with the number 14, which has been worn only two times in franchise history with those uses coming nine seasons apart. The 14 doesn’t have any superstar player to define it but it does have a player who was the definition of solid during his time in the Crescent City.
The First to Wear #14: Robert Pack, 2002-2003
The Most Recent to Wear #14: Jason Smith, 2011-2014
The #14’s in between: None
The start to the career of number 14 in New Orleans wasn’t anything special when Robert Pack donned it for 28 games in the 2002-2003 season. Pack, a longtime backup guard was winding towards the end of his NBA career at that point having come off a 16 game stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves the season before. During his time in New Orleans, Pack played sparingly and averaged only 15.6 minutes per game for a playoff bound Hornets team. When he did play Pack was average, totaling just 5.2 points, 2.9 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game in those minutes after joining the team in January as a free agent. Pack played his role for the team before moving on the next season with two ten-day contracts with the New Jersey Nets.
After Pack left the number 14 stayed dormant for years in New Orleans until the acquisition Jason Smith from the Philadelphia 76ers. Smith until that point had been a career backup, posting a career high of just 14.6 minutes per game in his rookie season. In his first season in New Orleans Smith approached that mark again with 14.3 minutes per game and played well enough to increase his role for the following season to over 23 minutes per game which allowed him to post a still career high 9.9 points per game, which also was the best in the history of New Orleans number 14 at that point. After a season where Smith’s minutes declined in 2012-2013 he was in the process of putting together the best season of his and the number 14’s career in 2013-2014 before a knee injury cost him his season after just 31 games. Before the injury Smith was averaging a career-high 26.8 minutes per game and 5.8 rebounds per game and was just off his career high in points per game with 9.7.
With the acquisition of Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca and Jeff Withey still under contract the Pelicans let Smith walk this season and with him put the number 14 back into storage. Whenever it does come out again it will be ready for someone to take it and build a real legacy on it as right now it sits with two good but very forgettable players as its only history.