New Orleans Pelicans Altering Summer League Plans After Jaxson Hayes Arrest
The New Orleans Pelicans were expected a big developmental leap from Jaxson Hayes this season and were preparing to give him more minutes in a rotation with Jonas Valanciunas. Now the Pelicans will have to take a long look into alternative free-agent options after Hayes was hospitalized and arrested in California following a domestic call to police. Beyond the initial domestic call, a police officer also required medical attention after the altercation, according to multiple reports.
The New Orleans Pelicans released a statement acknowledging, “We have been made aware of the incident involving Jaxson Hayes. We are working in conjunction with the NBA and Jaxson’s representatives to gather more information and will have no further comment at this time.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department records indicate Hayes was arrested, booked, and released on a $25,000 bond. A subsequent news release detailed the altercation, explaining that officers were dispatched to a residence at 2:50 a.m. to investigate a domestic dispute. Hayes was allegedly in the front yard when officers arrived. Officers made contact with him and requested he remained outside while they investigated but according to the LAPD, bodycam footage shows “Hayes repeatedly attempting to enter the residence, despite officers blocking his path and verbal commands for him to remain outside.”
The report continues, “Officers requested a backup and they attempted to place Hayes’ hands behind his back.; however, Hayes broke free of the officers’ grasp and pushed on officer into a wall. Officers utilized physical force to take Hayes down to the ground to overcome his resistance. Once on the ground, Hayes attempted to get up and continued resisting officers. Officers utilized two deployments of the taser, as well as body weight and physical force during the altercation, which lasted for approximately two and a half minutes before officers were able to handcuff Hayes.”
Hayes was tabbed to lead the Pelicans’ Summer League team in Las Vegas but that idea has to be tabled until this legal matter is resolved. Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin was excited for Hayes and new head coach Willie Green to work together starting the summer. Now they may never occupy the same bench this season. Following the lead of other leagues and cases, it is highly unlikely Hayes suits up for another game while this legal matter is still pending.
Playing in Las Vegas just a week after this incident brings would be a distraction to not only the team but Hayes as well. The legal aspect is only part of the equation. The emotions of any potential victims should be considered before any move is made. This was a traumatic event regardless of fault. The physical and emotional toll on Hayes, others in the house, and even the officers cannot be understated. Hayes will also have to comply with all bail conditions until his pending court date and those conditions can limit travel and require a bonded individual to refrain from all use of alcohol and other drugs, legal or otherwise. Hayes has far more important things to worry about than three games in Las Vegas.
New Orleans will need a contingency plan should Hayes be ruled out for any length of time. The Pelicans are familiar with Willy Hernangomez, who is representing himself as a New Orleans player at the Tokyo Olympics, and could be retained with a slight raise. New Orleans could use the 17th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft to bring in a cost-controlled replacement or make a trade for an affordable, serviceable veteran while waiting for more information about Hayes.
In any case, the Pelicans have to move forward like they will be without Hayes for the foreseeable future and those moves start with the NBA Summer League team. Green said in his introductory press conference that he would be coaching in Las Vegas, setting the tone and laying the groundwork for the season. Hayes was supposed to be a big part of those plans but now New Orleans must alter their approach. Given the uncertainty of the situation, it would be ill-advised to include Hayes in any team function until the case is resolved.
The developing situation is too delicate and sensitive to invite any added pressures or distractions. It would hurt the development of the team’s culture and open up Hayes more scrutiny at a time when his lawyers would prefer he not elaborate or be asked by the media to answer any prodding questions. This is an instance where the developmental goals of the team and player need to take a backseat to the priorities of the person going through a difficult time. It is unknown how this arrest affects Hayes for regular season but it should rule him out of participating in Las Vegas.