James Johnson & Wes Iwundu discuss opportunity to play for the New Orleans Pelicans


LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 27: Reggie Jackson #1 of the LA Clippers guarded by James Johnson #16 and Wes Iwundu #25 of the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on December 27, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty aImages License Agreement. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS — James Johnson and Wes Iwundu spoke with media during the New Orleans Pelicans shoot-around Monday for the first time since being traded to the team last week.

The Pelicans and Mavericks agreed to a trade that sent J.J. Redik and Nicolo Melli to Dallas in exchange for James Johnson, Wes Iwundu and a future 2nd round pick.

Pelicans VP of Basketball operations, David Griffin, says that the trade was to help the Pelicans improve defensively.

in a press conference following the trade, Griffin called both Johnson and Iwundu “competitive, defensive oriented players.”

Johnson is no stranger to mid-season trades.

He has been traded multiple times over the course of his career and says he fully understands the nature of the business.

Johnson has appeared in 663 career regular season games with Chicago, Toronto, Sacramento, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota and Dallas, posting averages of 7.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks in 20.5 minutes per contest.

He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in November of last year and now to New Orleans where he will have an opportunity to play with two more rising stars in the NBA.

“To go from playing with Luka (Doncic) and KP (Kristaps Porzingis) to playing with Zion (Williamson) and BI (Brandon Ingram), I couldn’t ask for a better situation,” says James Johnson.

As for Wes Iwundu, the Orlando Magic drafted him 33rd overall out of Kansas State in the 2017 draft.

He has appeared in 205 career regular season games with both the Magic and Mavericks, averaging 4.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists.

Iwundu says that while he has not played with any current members of the Pelicans, he has matched up against them in the AAU circuit, college and his time in the NBA.

He recognizes the potential of this young team and says he is excited to be a part of their process.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s a lot of guys with the same mindset just trying to get better and win games and figure this thing out. That’s a beautiful thing when you have everybody on the same page in terms of setting goals for the team, the organization, whatever it may be. It’s a fun thing,” says Iwundu.

Both Johnson and Iwundu could make their Pelicans debut tonight against the Boston Celtics.

Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m.

{Iwundu and Johnson information courtesy of a press release form the New Orleans Pelicans}

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