Jimmer Fredette’s BYU basketball career ended slowly and agonizingly in New Orleans. He’s hoping a return to that city will give his NBA career a quick jolt.
Fredette is joining the New Orleans Pelicans with a one-year contract for a veteran’s minimum salary of not quite $1 million.
So he’s back in the building where he scored 32 points as BYU lost 83-74 in overtime to Chandler Parsons’ Florida team in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. Fredette went scoreless in overtime as the Gators seized control and the five-minute period seemed endless for the Cougars.
In 2011, New Orleans’ NBA team was known as the Hornets, the building was called the New Orleans Arena and Jimmer was, well, Jimmer.
Now, the team is the Pelicans, the arena is the Smoothie King Center and Jimmer is a journeyman.
That’s fine. His NBA career is worth pursuing. He could have gone to Europe and settled into a nice lifestyle, but Fredette needed to give the NBA another shot. For one thing, he can shoot — and the league always needs shooters. And former Utah forward Britton Johnsen told me this summer that his biggest regret about a pro basketball career that covered six countries is he didn’t give himself more opportunities to stick in the NBA.
He also learned that those who do stay in the league for an extended career are "unbelievably special."
Is Fredette in that category? He sure seemed that way in college. His three seasons in the NBA with Sacramento and Chicago have not gone well, except for this number: 40.1 percent. That’s his career 3-point shooting rate, in limited opportunities.
Fredette will never be an NBA starter, but there must be a role for a shooter of his ability. The Pelicans figure he can replace Anthony Morrow, who averaged 8.4 points in 18.8 minutes — launching nearly three 3-pointers per game in 2013-14.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams endorsed that approach, and Fredette is willing to fire away in Morrow’s former job description. This has the look and feel of one last chance for Jimmer in the NBA, and it just might work.
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