Basketball Wiki
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans logo (2023)
Conference Western Conference NBA Western
Division Southwest
Founded 2002
History New Orleans Hornets
2002–2005, 2007–2013
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans
Arena Smoothie King Center
City New Orleans, Louisiana
Team Colors Navy Blue, Gold, Red
Media Fox Sports New Orleans
Owner(s) Gayle Benson
General Manager Trajan Langdon
Head Coach Willie Green
Uniform Sponsor Ibotta
Affiliate Birmingham Squadron
NBA NBA Championship logo 0
Conference Conference Championship logo 0
Division 1 (2008)
Retired numbers 2 (6, 7)
Official Website
PelicansAssociation PelicansIcon PelicansStatement
Home court
New Orleans Pelicans court design

The New Orleans Pelicans are an American professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Pelicans are a member of the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The franchise began play as the New Orleans Hornets during the 2002–03 NBA season when then-owner of the Charlotte Hornets, George Shinn, relocated the franchise to New Orleans. After three seasons in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina forced the franchise to temporarily relocate to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The Hornets returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–08 season. The team changed its name to the New Orleans Pelicans at the end of the 2012-13 season.

In 18 seasons of play since the original franchise relocated from Charlotte, North Carolina the New Orleans franchise has achieved an overall regular season record of 740–864 (.461) and qualified for the playoffs eight times. Their achievements include two playoff series victories and one division title.

Franchise History[]

Basketball in New Orleans[]

New Orleans had been a founding member of the ABA with the New Orleans Buccaneers (1967–1970). But the lack of a dedicated arena and a poor performance record led the team to relocate to Memphis. The city acquired an NBA expansion franchise in June, 1974, but the New Orleans Jazz faced a number of the same logistical and financial woes, and relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979. In 1994, the Minnesota Timberwolves were suffering financially and an ownership group almost purchased the team and moved it to New Orleans. The Timberwolves would have played at the Louisiana Superdome until a new arena was constructed. Financial problems, however, led to the NBA blocking the move. New Orleans would attempt to chase the Vancouver Grizzlies before finally landing another team in 1987.

George Shinn: Hornets move to New Orleans[]

While the Charlotte Hornets put a competitive team on the court throughout the 1990s, the team's attendance began falling dramatically. Many attributed this lapse in popularity to the team's owner, George Shinn, who was slowly becoming despised by the people of the city. In 1997, a Charlotte woman claimed that Shinn had raped her, and the resulting trial severely tarnished his reputation in the city. The consensus was that while Charlotte was as basketball-crazy as ever, fans took out their anger at Shinn on the team. Shinn had also become discontented with the Charlotte Coliseum, which, although considered state-of-the-art when it opened in 1988, had by then been considered obsolete due to a limited number of luxury boxes. On March 26, 2001, both the Hornets and the Vancouver Grizzlies applied for relocation to Memphis, Tennessee, which was ultimately won by the Grizzlies. Shinn issued an ultimatum: unless the city built a new arena at no cost to him, the Hornets would leave town. The city initially refused, leading Shinn to consider moving the team to either Norfolk, Louisville, or St. Louis. Of the cities in the running, only St. Louis had an NBA-ready arena (Savvis Center, now known as the Enterprise Center) already in place and was a larger media market than Charlotte at the time; also, it was the only one of the four to have previously hosted an NBA franchise — the St. Louis Hawks, who moved to Atlanta in 1968.

Finally, a new arena in Uptown, which would eventually become the Charlotte Bobcats Arena (now known as Spectrum Center), was included in a non-binding referendum for a larger arts-related package, and Shinn withdrew his application to move the team. Polls showed the referendum on its way to passage. However, just days before the referendum, Mayor Pat McCrory vetoed a living wage ordinance. The veto prompted many of the city's black ministers to oppose the referendum; they felt it was immoral for the city to build a new arena when city employees were not paid enough to make a living. After the referendum failed, city leaders devised a plan to build a new arena in a way that did not require voter support, but made it known that they would not even consider building it unless Shinn sold the team. While even the NBA acknowledged that Shinn had alienated fans, league officials felt such a demand would anger other owners. The city council refused to remove the statement, leading the Hornets to request a move to New Orleans – a move which would eventually return the NBA to that city since the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. Before the Hornets were eliminated from the playoffs, the NBA approved the move. As part of a deal, the NBA promised that Charlotte would get a new team, which took the court two years later as the Charlotte Bobcats.

In a 2008 interview with the Charlotte Observer, Shinn, who has not returned to Charlotte since the Hornets moved, admitted that the "bad judgment I made in my life" played a role in the Hornets' departure. He also said that if he had it to do all over again, he would not have withdrawn from the public after the sexual assault trial. Shinn emphasized how he was making amends by committing to New Orleans saying, "I've made enough mistakes in my life. I'm not going to make one here. This city needs us here. We're going to make this (New Orleans) thing work."

2002–2005: Early years in New Orleans[]


New Orleans Hornets logo 2002–2008.

The Hornets opened their inaugural season in New Orleans on October 30, 2002, against the Utah Jazz, who were originally known as the New Orleans Jazz. The Hornets defeated the Jazz 100–75, and posthumously retired "Pistol" Pete Maravich's #7 during halftime. It was the first regular season NBA game played in New Orleans in over 17 years[1] (there were a few exhibition games played through the years, including the then Charlotte Hornets in New Orleans in 2000). The Hornets finished the season at 47–35, and qualified for the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The were defeated by Philadelphia, however, 4 games to 2 in the first round.

Following the season, the team unexpectedly fired Paul Silas, and replacing him with Tim Floyd. The Hornets began the 2002–03 season with a 17–7 start, but sputtered at the end and finished 41–41, narrowly missing out on home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They met the Miami Heat in the first round, and each team won all of their home games. Dwyane Wade's last second shot sunk the Hornets in Game 1 of the series, which ended up being the difference in a 4–3 series win for Miami.

After the season, Floyd was fired and the team hired Byron Scott as the new head coach. Because of their relocation, the Hornets bagan playing in the tougher Southwest Division of the Western Conference which included four playoff teams: the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and Memphis Grizzlies; the team was not expected to compete for a playoff spot with such stiff competition. In a season marred by injury to the team's three all-stars (Baron Davis, Jamaal Magloire, and Jamal Mashburn) an 0–8 start quickly became a 2–29 record (including a one-point loss in overtime to their replacements, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, in the team's first game back in Charlotte since relocating). The Hornets were on track to become the worst team in NBA history, threatening the Philadelphia 76ers' record of a 9–73 season, but the Hornets performed better in January and February. As a result of the lack of success, the team's roster was reshaped, with older veterans like Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn traded to start the rebuilding process. None of the trades, however, made a significant impact. The Hornets finished the year with a franchise-worst record of 18–64, and the franchise's first losing season since 1990–91.

2005–2011: The Chris Paul era[]

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Chris Paul NO Hornets

Chris Paul was selected by the Hornets with the 4th overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft.

With the fourth pick in the 2005 NBA draft, the Hornets used their first-round pick to select point guard Chris Paul out of Wake Forest University.

Due to the catastrophic devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina upon the communities of southeastern Louisiana, the Hornets franchise temporarily relocated their base of operations to Oklahoma City in 2005–06 and 2006–07. During this time, the franchise was known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. In these two seasons, the vast majority of home games were played at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, while a few remained at New Orleans Arena. Their practice facility while in Oklahoma City was the Sawyer Center [2] on the campus of Southern Nazarene University (SNU).[3] and the team held its 2006 training camp at their New Orleans practice facility, the Alario Center, in Westwego, Louisiana.

For the 2005–06 season, the team played 36 games in Oklahoma City, with one game taking place at the Lloyd Noble Center on the campus of the University of Oklahoma due to a conflict at the Ford Center; three in New Orleans; and one at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the campus of LSU. The intent had been to play 5 games in all at Baton Rouge, but strong progress made on restoring the New Orleans Arena made the return to New Orleans a better option.

The Hornets started off the 2005–06 NBA season better than expected, even after backup center Chris Andersen received a two-year ban due to a drug violation. The Hornets seemed to use this as motivation, and the team briefly held the sixth seed in the Western playoff race. Eventually, however, they went cold, losing 12 out of 13 games to drop out of the playoff race, setting an NBA record in the process when they scored 16 points in the second half of a game against the Clippers. The Hornets rebounded and made one final push at the end of the season for a playoff spot, but finished 38–44, 10th place in the Western Conference. Despite the losing record, Chris Paul won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in a landslide, and several Hornets were also in contention for other individual awards.

The Hornets made major roster changes after the 2005–06 season in hopes of advancing to the Western Conference postseason for the first time ever. They traded J.R. Smith and P.J. Brown to the Chicago Bulls for Tyson Chandler. They let Speedy Claxton sign with the Atlanta Hawks, but filled their backup PG position with free agents Bobby Jackson and Jannero Pargo. They also inked Peja Stojakovic from the Indiana Pacers.

The Hornets opted to keep their base of operations in Oklahoma City for the 2006–07 season due to the continued recovery efforts in New Orleans but promised to return to New Orleans full time, possibly as early as 2007. During the 2006–2007 season, the Hornets played 35 home games in Oklahoma City and 6 in New Orleans. The team finished the regular season with a 39–43 record, one more win than the previous season.

The team's successful operation in Oklahoma City arguably contributed to the city being named as the new home for the Seattle SuperSonics franchise starting in the 2008–09 NBA season (see Oklahoma City Thunder).


New Orleans Hornets logo from 2008–2013.

The Hornets franchise returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–08 season, with all 41 home games played in the New Orleans Arena. League officials had stressed from the beginning the desire for the franchise to return to New Orleans once it proved feasible and that they would make a good-faith effort to assist with the recovery. To that end, the 2008 NBA All-Star Game and its accompanying festivities were awarded to New Orleans and a serious marketing campaign was commenced in February 2007. Subsequently, various corporate sponsorship agreements were signed (under the umbrella of the Crescent City Champions), with Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Capital One, and Cox Communications among them. The Hornets largely stood pat heading into the 2007–2008 season. They did, however, sign free agents Morris Peterson and Melvin Ely, while letting go of former first round draft pick Cedric Simmons. The club also extended the contract of reserve guard Jannero Pargo, and selected Kansas forward Julian Wright with the 13th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Attendance at the New Orleans Arena, while tepid at first, picked up considerably in the months of March and April 2008 with the team registering sell-outs in 12 of its last 17 regular season home games, and the final 13 total games (including playoffs). Healthier than previous seasons, the Hornets stormed to a 29–12 record at the halfway mark. Having the best record in the Western Conference on February 3 meant that Byron Scott would coach the 2008 Western Conference All-Stars at home in the New Orleans Arena. Scott was joined by two of his players, as both Chris Paul and David West were selected as All-Star reserves. Chris Paul was nominated for NBA MVP 2008 and placed 2nd in voting. On February 21 the Hornets made an in-season trade with the Houston Rockets acquiring swingman Bonzi Wells and backup point guard Mike James for veteran guard Bobby Jackson.

The Hornets completed the regular season with a record of 56–26, making the season their most successful ever. The Hornets also won their first ever division title, winning the Southwest Division ahead of the San Antonio Spurs. Having clinched the 2nd overall seed for the Western Conference, the Hornets beat the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. The Hornets posted decisive wins against the 3rd seed San Antonio Spurs in the first two games of Western Conference Semi-finals, but eventually lost to the defending champion Spurs 3 games to 4 in a tightly contested series.

In August 2008, the Hornets unveiled a modified logo and new uniforms with the colors of Creole blue, purple, and Mardi Gras gold, and after six seasons, the pinstripes were reinstated on the uniforms. The script was changed as an allusion to the wrought iron architecture of New Orleans. An additional third logo was introduced, with the "NOLA" abbreviation and a trumpet.[4] The team also publicly announced the sale of over 10,000 season tickets for the 2008–2009 season, a record total since the relocation from Charlotte.

Having experienced the most successful season in franchise history, both in the regular season and the playoffs, the 2009 NBA season was viewed with great expectations for the Hornets franchise. Several pundits picked the Hornets to repeat as winners of the Southwest Division and as a potential Western Conference champion.[5]

The core players from the previous season were all back for 2008–09. Swingman James Posey was signed as a free agent from the Boston Celtics in July, while reserve guard Jannero Pargo opted for the Russian Basketball Super League. In December the Hornets solidified the point guard position by acquiring Antonio Daniels in a three-team deal, giving up seldom-used guard Mike James and a future second-round draft pick. More notably, on February 18 it was announced that starting center Tyson Chandler had been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forwards Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox in what was generally perceived as a payroll-shedding move. However, within a day, the trade was rescinded due to concerns regarding Chandler's turf toe.

For the second year in a row the Hornets were represented with two players at the NBA All Star Game as Chris Paul was voted in by the fans as a starter, and David West was selected as a reserve by the NBA coaches.

The season in itself was up and down for the Hornets, and by April it was clear that the record-breaking 56–26 record of 2007–2008 was unattainable in 2008–09. This was to some extent due to injury problems, most notably to Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic. The Hornets finished the season with a disappointing 49–33 record, 4th in the Southwest Division and 7th in the Western Conference. Paired up with the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Hornets commenced the post-season in a sour manner, losing both of the first two games decisively in Denver. Trailing 2–1, the next game proved brutal for the Hornets. The Hornets tied the worst loss in playoff history with a 121–63 beating. They shot 31.5% from the field with 13.3% 3-point shooting.[6] The banged up Hornets were subsequently eliminated from the 2009 NBA playoffs in Game 5, beginning an off-season of speculation on the future construction of the team.[7]

In the aftermath of a highly unsuccessful end to the 2009 NBA season and the in-season attempt to trade starting center Tyson Chandler for expiring contracts, the New Orleans Hornets were widely perceived to be looking to trim the payroll. Indeed, at the start of the NBA free agency period on July 1, the Hornets had the highest payroll of all teams in the league, topping $77 Million. When the luxury tax level was set on July 7, it left the Hornets in excess of $7 million in the tax zone.[8]

Despite comments from the team owner- and leadership about the intention to compete and building a winner, it was still seen as quite surprising when on July 28, the Hornets landed center Emeka Okafor from the Charlotte Bobcats for Tyson Chandler.[9] While the move allowed the Hornets to shed $1.3 Million of the 2009-2010 payroll, they also took on the remainder of Okafor's contract valued at just under $63 Million for 5 years.

The backcourt had been strengthened via the draft. On June 25, 2009, the Hornets drafted Darren Collison with the 21st pick of the 2009 NBA Draft. The Hornets also traded two future second round picks to the Miami Heat for the 43rd pick Marcus Thornton. On August 12, 2009, the Hornets traded starter Rasual Butler to the Clippers for a 2016 second round draft pick, in an elaborate attempt to lower the payroll. Butler was slated to earn $3.9 Million for the season, but due to the Hornets being in the tax zone, those savings were effectively doubled. Further, on September 9, the Hornets traded guard Antonio Daniels to the Minnesota Timberwolves for guard Bobby Brown and forward Darius Songaila.[10]

The conscious effort to get below the luxury tax threshold continued during the season. First, disappointing back-up center Hilton Armstrong was traded along with cash considerations to the Sacramento Kings for a conditional 2016 second round draft pick.[11] Shortly thereafter, starting shooting guard Devin Brown was traded to the Chicago Bulls for reserve center Aaron Gray and backup guard Bobby Brown was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for a conditional 2nd round draft pick.[12] In total, these trades got the Hornets just below the luxury tax threshold.

On the court, the Hornets started the season in a disappointing fashion, and head coach Byron Scott was fired on November 12, 2009 after a 3-6 start to the season. General manager Jeff Bower took over the head coaching duties for the remainder of the season. The Hornets overcame the bad start to the season and were as high as 6th in the Western Conference standings in late January. In the second to last game of January, Chris Paul got injured trying to save an errant pass going out of bounds. Despite returning for a stretch late in the season, that injury effectively ended Paul's season. The lone highlight for the remainder of the season was the stellar performance of rookies Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton. Collison achieved the longest stretch of games with at least 18 points and 9 assists (7 in a row in February) for a rookie since Oscar Robertson. For Thornton, one of many highlights was the 37 points (including a franchise record quarter of 23 points) he dropped on Cleveland on February 23. Both rookies made the all-rookie teams after the season, a first in franchise history.

The Hornets finished the season with a lowly 37–45 record, finishing last in the Southwest division they had won only two seasons before. Jeff Bower later resigned as head coach to concentrate on his front office duties. This did not last long as Bower was fired by the Hornets on July 13, 2010, ending a tenure of nearly 15 years within the organization. In between Bower's stepping down as head coach and his dismissal from the organization, Monty Williams was brought in as new head coach. The former assistant coach of the Portland Trail Blazers was at the age of just 38 the youngest head coach in the league.[13] To replace Bower as general manager, the Hornets hired Dell Demps of the San Antonio Spurs in late July.[14]

With a new head coach and a new general manager in place, the Hornets went through the summer with two vast uncertainty hanging over the organization. The first was a prolonged process of minority owner Gary Chouest possibly buying out long term owner George Shinn and thus becoming sole owner of the organization. The most probable consequence of this possible transaction would be financially as Chouest is considerably stronger than Shinn. The second uncertainty pertained to the situation regarding star point guard Chris Paul. At several times during the off-season there were murmurs of unhappiness and a desire to be traded. At the start of the season, some of this had subsided, but the situation is still pertinent, and may resurface if the Hornets encounter another disappointing season, as Paul on numerous occasions has expressed his desire to be on a winning team.

On the player side, the off-season was also used to extensively reshape the roster. Several of the trades made could probably be seen in the dual perspective of a new philosophy given the new coach and GM, and a desire to appease Chris Paul while getting younger, more athletic, and stronger defensively. As soon as the 2010 NBA Draft, this process started. Lottery pick Cole Aldrich and disappointing guard Morris Peterson were shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 21st and 26th picks in the draft.[15] Those picks were subsequently used on forwards Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter. On August 11, the Hornets shipped out surprising rookie Darren Collison and swing man James Posey to the Indiana Pacers for small forward Trevor Ariza from the Houston Rockets in a four team trade. In a separate trade on the same day, another disappointment, former lottery pick Julian Wright was traded to the Toronto Raptors for shooting guard Marco Belinelli.[16] On September 23, 2010, the Hornets sent rookie Craig Brackins and power forward Darius Songaila to the Philadelphia 76ers for guard Willie Green and center Jason Smith.[17] Finally, just before the start of the regular season on October 23, the Hornets acquired point guard Jerryd Bayless from the Portland Trail Blazers for a conditional first round draft pick.[18]

With this drastic overhaul of the roster, the Hornets seemingly accomplished getting younger, more athletic and potentially a lot better defensively. Several earlier mistakes were corrected in shipping out Peterson, Posey and Wright. The cost primarily was the loss of Collison and potentially the future first round draft pick. When the 2010-11 NBA season started only three players (Paul, West and Stojakovic) were left from the team that won the Southwest Division just over two years prior. Despite all the efforts toward reshaping the roster competitively, most pundits predicted a difficult season for the Hornets, with only few considering even an 8th seed possible.[19]

However, the team got off to an impressive start. On November 5, the Hornets broke a team record with 5 straight wins to begin the season. The team then extended the streak to 8 straight wins to begin the season. The team also held their first 10 opponents to below 100 points. Later in the season, the team tied a club record with 10 straight wins on January 26, 2011.

On the ownership side, the buyout by Chouest fell through in early December 2010. Because Shinn is not in a financial position to continue to run the team, the NBA was expected to purchase and run the team while looking for a local owner. After losing a bid to buy the Golden State Warriors, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, has noted that he was willing to buy the Hornets and move them to San Jose, California.[20] The NBA completed their purchase of the Hornets from George Shinn and Gary Chouest in December 2010 for an estimated $300 million. On January 24, 2011, the state, city, and local businesses of New Orleans came together and raised enough money to buy enough tickets to block an escape clause that would have allowed the team to walk away from its lease at New Orleans Arena because of low attendance.

The overhaul of the roster lead to the team getting younger and more athletic and potentially while simultaneously cutting the relatively underperforming Peterson, Posey and Wright. The cost primarily was the loss of Collison and potentially the future first round draft pick. When the 2010–11 NBA season started, only three players (Paul, West and Stojakovic) were left from the team that won the Southwest Division two years prior. The team started the season with five straight wins, a team record for opening a season. The team then extended the streak to eight straight wins. The team also held their first ten opponents to below 100 points. Later in the season, the team tied a club record with ten straight wins on January 26, 2011. The team qualified for the 2011 NBA Playoffs, where they lost to the defending two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers four games to two.

Off-court in the 2010–11 season, the buyout by Chouest fell through in early December 2010 and because Shinn was not in a financial position to continue to run the team, the NBA purchased the team for an estimated $300 million while it looked for a local owner. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation who previously tried to buy the Golden State Warriors, said he offered to purchase the team but was "slightly outbid" by the league. On January 24, 2011, the state, city, and local businesses of New Orleans came together and raised enough money to buy enough tickets to block an escape clause that would have allowed the team to walk away from its lease at New Orleans Arena because of low attendance.

Chris Paul's departure[]

Before the 2011–12 NBA season, the Hornets were considering trade offers for Chris Paul and he requested a trade to the New York Knicks. The Hornets looked at many teams, including the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors as trade partners, but Paul had made it clear he wanted to be traded to New York or Los Angeles. A three-team trade involving the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets was agreed upon, but commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade. On December 14, 2011, the Hornets agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers that would send Paul to L.A. in exchange for Eric GordonChris KamanAl-Farouq Aminu, and a first-round draft pick acquired by the Clippers from a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004.

At the end of the 66-game lockout-shortened 2011–12 NBA season, the Hornets had the worst record in the West, 21–45.

2012–2019: The Anthony Davis era[]

2012–2013: Beginning the Anthony Davis era[]

Anthony Davis NO Hornets

Anthony Davis was selected with the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets.

On April 13, 2012, it was announced that Tom Benson, owner of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints, had purchased the franchise from the NBA for $338 million. In addition, Benson announced that he would change the team name to something that would better suit the region, fueling rumors that the Hornets name could one day return to Charlotte, where the Charlotte Bobcats had been playing since 2004. In June 2012, Benson appointed two senior Saints executives to supervise the Hornets: Saints' general manager Mickey Loomis became head of basketball operations, overseeing general manager Dell Demps, and Saints' business operations head Dennis Lauscha took on the same role with the Hornets.

The Hornets traded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to the Wizards for Rashard Lewis, whom they bought out, and a draft pick.

On May 30, 2012, the Hornets were awarded the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft and subsequently drafted Anthony Davis. They also drafted Austin Rivers with the tenth pick (acquired from the Clippers as part of the Chris Paul trade).

On July 11, 2012, Ryan Anderson, 2012's Most Improved Player and three-point field goals leader, was acquired by the New Orleans Hornets in a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic for Gustavo Ayón.

2013–2015: Hornets to Pelicans[]

New owner Tom Benson had indicated early in his ownership that he wished to change the team's name to something more local, even preferring that the Utah Jazz – founded in New Orleans in 1974 and played there until 1979 – give up the "Jazz" name, but the Jazz indicated they had no interest in returning the name due to over 30 years of history associated with it. Benson had also heavily favored the names "Brass" and "Krewe".


New Orleans Pelicans logo from 2013–2023.

However, on December 4, 2012, it was reported that the Hornets would change their name to the New Orleans Pelicans beginning with the 2013–14 season. The team name is inspired by Louisiana's state bird, the brown pelican.

The name "Pelicans" previously had been used by a minor-league baseball team that played in New Orleans from 1901 to 1957. The Hornets organization officially confirmed the name change in a press conference held on January 24, 2013, where officials unveiled the team's new logos and navy blue–gold–red color scheme. On April 18, 2013, after the end of the team's 2012–13 season, the team's name was officially changed to the Pelicans.

Following the New Orleans franchise's 2013 disestablishment of the "Hornets" name, on May 21, 2013, the Charlotte Bobcats' owner Michael Jordan officially announced the organization had submitted an application to change the name of his franchise to the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014–15 season pending a majority vote for approval by the NBA Board of Governors at a meeting in Las Vegas, on July 18, 2013.[31] Then-NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Adam Silver had previously pointed out that the league owns the rights to the name Hornets and that could speed up the process. The NBA unanimously approved the name change starting with 2014–15.

On June 27, 2013, during the 2013 NBA draft, the Pelicans selected Nerlens Noel 6th overall, and traded him along with a 2014 protected first-round pick for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers and the 42nd pick, Pierre Jackson. At a May 20, 2014, press conference announcing the Charlotte Bobcats' official team name change to Hornets, it was also announced that the Pelicans agreed to transfer the records and statistics of the original Hornets (1988–2002) to the current Charlotte franchise, thus unifying all of Charlotte's NBA basketball history under one franchise; the team records and statistics since the 2002 move to New Orleans would be retained by the Pelicans, retroactively turning the Pelicans into a 2002 expansion team.

To restate and clarify the series of events: after the 2002 season, the original Hornets moved to New Orleans. In 2004, Charlotte was granted a new franchise, the Bobcats. After the 2013–14 season, the Bobcats changed their name to the Hornets and reclaimed the history and records of the 1988–2002 Hornets. As a result, the Hornets are now reckoned as having suspended operations from 2002 to 2004, while the Pelicans are now reckoned as having joined the league in 2002.

2015: Return to the playoffs[]

For the first time under the name Pelicans, the team qualified for the playoffs with a 45–37 record as the number 8 seed in the Western Conference. They owned the tie-breaker over the Oklahoma City Thunder by winning the regular season head-to-head series, 3–1, and they faced the Golden State Warriors in the First Round; the Warriors swept the Pelicans in four games. After the season, the Pelicans fired coach Monty Williams despite qualifying for the playoffs.

On May 31, 2015, the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry as the franchise's sixth head coach. The Pelicans missed the 2016 NBA Playoffs, finishing with a 30–52 record. They acquired the 6th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft from the draft lottery and selected Buddy Hield from the University of Oklahoma.

2017–2019: End of the Anthony Davis era[]

On February 20, 2017, the Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins in a trade with the Sacramento Kings when they traded Buddy HieldTyreke EvansLangston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick, and a 2017 second-round pick in exchange for Cousins and Omri Casspi.

On February 1, 2018, the Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotić in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Though the trade went through, a previous trade for Mirotić to the Pelicans was called off when New Orleans did not want to pay for Mirotić's 2019 team option contract, that Mirotić signed with the Bulls during the off-season in 2017. The Pelicans received Mirotić and a 2018 second-round pick for veterans Ömer Aşık, Jameer Nelson, and Tony Allen. Mirotić demanded a trade when former teammate Bobby Portis punched Mirotić in the face during an off-season practice. At the time of the trade, Mirotić was the Bulls' leading scorer, and DeMarcus Cousins was injured. Mirotić played well for the Pelicans after the trade, and meshed well with the rest of the team.[36]

On March 15, 2018, Tom Benson died from complications of the flu. Ownership of the Pelicans and the Saints were transferred to Benson's widow, Gayle Benson.

The Pelicans clinched a playoff spot on April 9, 2018. In the First Round, they swept the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers 4–0, and then lost to the Golden State Warriors 4–1.

In January 2019, Davis demanded a trade from the franchise, and was fined for publicly announcing the request.

On May 14, 2019, the Pelicans received the first overall pick at the NBA draft lottery of the 2019 NBA draft, despite having a six percent chance to win it.

On June 15, 2019, the Pelicans agreed to trade Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. In return, the Lakers agreed to send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, to the Pelicans. The Pelicans later agreed to trade draft rights of the fourth overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft to the Atlanta Hawks, receiving the draft rights to the eighth, 17th and 35th picks in the 2019 NBA draft. The three-way trade was completed on July 6, 2019, marking the end of an era for the Pelicans.

2019–present: The Brandon Ingram/Zion Williamson era[]

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson was selected with the first overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft by the Pelicans.

On April 17, 2019, the Pelicans named David Griffin as the new executive vice president of basketball operations. On May 19, 2019, the Pelicans named former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Trajan Langdon their newest general manager, replacing interim general manager Danny Ferry.

On June 20, 2019, the Pelicans selected Zion Williamson with the first overall pick. The team also drafted Alen Smailagić and Jordan Bone, both of whom were immediately traded to the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks, respectively. The Pelicans then received Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Marcos Louzada Silva from the Hawks. On July 1, the Pelicans announced that they signed Williamson to his rookie-scale contract. However, the Pelicans began the 2019–20 season without Williamson as he had a knee surgery following an injury in the preseason. He made his debut on January 22, 2020, scoring 22 points in 18 minutes of play. On March 3, 2020, Williamson was named the NBA Rookie of the Month for the month of February. During the month, Williamson averaged 25.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.0 steal a game.

Brandon Ingram had a breakout season. On December 30, 2019, Ingram was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played between December 23 to December 29. During the week, Ingram averaged 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 54.2 percent from three-point range. Ingram helped the Pelicans to a 4–0 week as a result. On January 16, 2020, Ingram recorded a career-high by scoring 49 points in a 138–132 overtime win against the Utah Jazz. Ingram gave the Pelicans a one-point lead with a fadeaway jumper with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation. This was before Rudy Gobert was fouled and subsequently sent the game to overtime with a free throw. Because of his breakout season, Ingram became an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career.

Following the suspension of the 2019–20 NBA season, the Pelicans were one of the 22 teams invited to the NBA Bubble to participate in the final eight games of the regular season. On August 9, 2020, the Pelicans were eliminated from postseason contention when the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers.

In February 2022, Rush Street Interactive's (RSI) BetRivers has signed a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, which sees the operator become the basketball team's official sportsbook partner. As part of the agreement, BetRivers’ branding will appear throughout the home arena of the Pelicans, the Smoothie King Center, while VIP-themed Chairman's Club will be rebranded as the BetRivers Chairman Lounge.

Despite Williamson missing the entire season with a right foot fracture, the Pelicans finished the 2021–22 NBA season with a 36–46 record, which earned them the ninth place position in the Western Conference and a chance to make the playoffs through the play-in tournament. On April 13, 2022, the Pelicans defeated the tenth-place San Antonio Spurs 113–103 at home in the first round of the play-in and two days later defeated the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers 105–101 on the road in the second round of the play-in to clinch the eighth seed and New Orleans' first playoff berth since 2018.

In the playoffs, the Pelicans faced against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round, where they lost in six games.

Season-by-season records[]

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage

Season W L % Playoffs Results
New Orleans Hornets
2002-03 47 35 .573 Lost First Round Philadelphia 4, New Orleans 2
2003-04 41 41 .500 Lost First Round Miami 4, New Orleans 3
2004-05 18 64 .220
2005-06 38 44 .463
2006-07 39 43 .476
2007-08 56 26 .683 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
New Orleans 4, Dallas 1
San Antonio 4, New Orleans 3
2008-09 49 33 .598 Lost First Round Denver 4, New Orleans 1
2009-10 37 45 .451
2010-11 46 36 .561 Lost First Round LA Lakers 4, New Orleans 2
2011-12 21 45 .318
2012-13 27 55 .329
New Orleans Pelicans
2013-14 34 48 .415
2014-15 45 37 .549 Lost First Round Golden State 4, New Orleans 0
2015-16 32 50 .366
2016-17 34 48 .415
2017-18 48 34 .585 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
New Orleans 4, Portland 0
Golden State 4, New Orleans 1
2018-19 33 49 .402
2019-20 30 42 .417
2020-21 31 41 .431
2021-22 36 46 .439 Won Play-in game to advance to No. 8 seed game
Won Play-in game for No. 8 seed
Lost First Round
New Orleans 113, San Antonio 103
New Orleans 105, LA Clippers 101
Phoenix 4, New Orleans 2
2022-23 42 40 .512 Lost Play-in game to advance to No. 8 seed game Oklahoma City 123, New Orleans 118
2023-24 49 33 .598 Lost Play-in game for No. 7 seed
Won Play-in game for No. 8 seed
Lost First Round
LA Lakers 110, New Orleans 106
New Orleans 105, Sacramento 98
Oklahoma City 4, New Orleans 0
Totals 673 777 .464
Playoffs 20 29 .408 0 Championships


Current Roster[]

Players Coaches
Pos. No. Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY-MM-DD) From
G 15 Alvarado, Jose 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 179 lb (81 kg) 1998-04-12 Georgia Tech
F 12 Clark, Gary (TW) 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 225 lb (102 kg) 1994-11-16 Cincinnati
G 4 Graham, Devonte' 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 195 lb (88 kg) 1995-02-22 Kansas
G 2 Harper, Jared (TW) 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 1997-09-14 Auburn
F/C 10 Hayes, Jaxson 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 2000-05-23 Texas
F/C 9 Hernangómez, Willy 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 250 lb (113 kg) 1994-05-27 Spain
F 14 Ingram, Brandon 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1997-09-02 Duke
F 5 Jones, Herbert 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 206 lb (93 kg) 1998-10-06 Alabama
G 13 Lewis, Kira Injured 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 2001-04-06 Alabama
F 8 Marshall, Naji 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 1998-01-24 Xavier
G 3 McCollum, CJ 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1991-09-19 Lehigh
F 25 Murphy, Trey 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 206 lb (93 kg) 2000-06-18 Virginia
F/C 22 Nance, Larry 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 245 lb (111 kg) 1993-01-01 Wyoming
G 21 Snell, Tony 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 213 lb (97 kg) 1991-11-10 New Mexico
G/F 41 Temple, Garrett 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 195 lb (88 kg) 1986-05-08 LSU
C 17 Valančiūnas, Jonas 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 265 lb (120 kg) 1992-05-06 Lithuania
F 1 Williamson, Zion Injured 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 284 lb (129 kg) 2000-07-06 Duke
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • (GL) On assignment to G League
  • (TW) Two-way affiliate player
  • Injured Injured

Last transaction: March 29, 2022

Retired numbers[]

New Orleans Pelicans retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
6 Bill Russell N/A Retired across NBA on August 11, 2022
7 Pete Maravich G 1974–1979


  • The then-New Orleans Hornets retired Maravich's number during their first game in New Orleans in honor of his basketball contributions to the state of Louisiana, both during his college career at Louisiana State University (LSU) and his professional career with the city's former NBA team, the New Orleans Jazz (now the Utah Jazz).


Head coaches[]

Home arenas[]

Franchise records, awards and honors[]

Individual awards[]

Template:Columns-start Rookie of the Year

Sixth Man of the Year

Coach of the Year

All-Star Game MVP

All-Star West Head Coach

Executive of the Year

  • Bob Bass – 1997

Template:Column All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

NBA All-Defensive First Team

Template:Column NBA All-Defensive Second Team

NBA Rookie First Team

NBA Rookie Second Team


  1. Eye for victory
  2. Sawyer Center
  3.{E4161849-E79C-4F0C-AD27-33DC07C3ED45}&sc=-1&ni=761&fr=news 1
  4. Hornets new uniforms and logos
  5. " NBA Preview Dime". Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  8. " 2009-2010 Salary Cap". Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  9. "Hornets taking their time". Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  10. "Wolves Acquire Antonio Daniels from New Orleans". Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  11. "Kings get Armstrong for 2016 pick". Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  12. "Hornets trade Browns". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  13. Hornets name Williams coach
  14. "Hornets hire Dell Demps". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  15. "Hornets trade Aldrich and Peterson". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  16. "Hornets get Ariza and Belinelli". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  17. "Hornets get Green and Smith from Sixers". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  18. "Hornets get Bayless from Blazers". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  19. "Hornets predictions 2010-11". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  20. Stein, Marc (2010-12-05). "Sources: NBA set to take over Hornets". Retrieved 2010-12-06. 


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