The New Orleans Pelicans can afford to give their young center, Liam Robbins, the time he needs to learn and heal from the sidelines.
The New Orleans Pelicans announced just before training camp opened that center Liam Robbins has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right fibula. A timetable for his return will be provided at a later time. Thankfully, the team can give him a space to learn and heal from the sidelines while keeping a valuable asset in-house.
EJ Liddell, who was selected by New Orleans with the 41st overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft out of Ohio State, missed all of last season due to a torn ACL in his right knee. The Pelicans signed Liddell to a two-way day last October, then converted the former Buckeye into a fully guaranteed deal this July. Robbins can follow the same pathway and might not even have to take up a two-way spot (depending on if other teams would claim him).
A team must have an Exhibit 10 player participate in training camp for one day to acquire their G-League rights. At that point, they can be waived (since their rights have been acquired). However, if the team has an Exhibit 10 player at camp for two days, proceeds to waive them, and then another team claims that player and has them at camp for three days, then, the latter team acquires the player’s G-League rights. That’s why I expect Robbins to stick around through at least the first round of cuts.
Trey Jemison, a 7-footer out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will get plenty of chances to steal the starting job on the Pelicans’ G-League affiliate (the Birmingham Squadron) just by being the only available third-string backup big man throughout the preseason.
Still, the 2022-23 SEC Defensive Player of the Year will have a spot on the roster unless someone else scoops him up. Robbins, who was having fun and seemed at ease with the team at media day this Monday, can be shaped into a capable backup stretch big man who also provides above-average rim protection. There is too much talent there to get lost in the European league shuffle this late in the off-season. Someone will give Robbins the time to heal and learn from the sidelines. It might as well be the Pelicans.