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    Ex-Cardinal Russ Smith Headed to Memphis
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    For followers of former University of Louisville basketball All-American Russ Smith, his rookie campaign in the NBA for the New Orleans Pelicans has been nothing short of maddening, especially after his pre-season play in the KFC Yum! Center before the beginning of the season.

    During that game the crowd chanted “we want Russ” until they got their wish and he delivered. Sure it was preseason, but that was Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat on the floor. Russ can play with the big boys.

    During the regular season, you get a different story. To say the Pelicans have used him sparingly is actually hyperbole. On the season, he’s played in six games out of 36. The team is 18-18 which puts them at the bottom of the Western Conference’s Southwest Division. They’re good at home (12-5) but abysmal on the road (6-13).

    You can’t blame it on their rookie guard who averages less than a point a game in his limited minutes because the Pelicans continually send him to the NBA’s Developmental League.

    For the third time this season, Russ finds himself coming north to play for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He got his latest assignment to the D-League January 9th. He was first sent to the Mad Ants on December 5th of last year and again on December 11th.

    The Mad Ants have a different opinion of Smith. In his six games there he’s poured in 16.5 points and 6.2 assists per game. Russ just did his thing. He said the Pelicans planned on sending him up and down through the D-League all season. Ironically, the Mad Ants is where Detroit sent another Cardinal standout, Peyton Siva, last year.

    But something exciting happened Monday. Smith was included in a three team trade that sent him to the 26-11 Memphis Grizzlies.

    The trade is complicated, as most midseason NBA trades are. The Grizzlies send former Kentucky standout Tayshaun Prince to the Boston Celtics as well as New Orleans’s Austin Rivers and a 2019 first round draft pick. The Grizzlies pick up Jeff Green from the Celtics.

    Memphis also sends Quincy Pondexter and a 2015 second round pick to the Pelicans in return for getting Smith. Pondexter is a former number one pick so for the Grizzlies to give up a number one and a future number two could say something about where they think Smith’s career is going.

    Photo by: Tim Girton/

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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