METAIRIE, La — On Friday New Orleans Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps turned his attention to the future with the introductions of former Lakers forward Julius Randle and Magic guard Elfrid Payton. The two men will be expected to fill in two very crucial holes on the New Orleans roster after the losses of Demarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo this offseason.
For Payton, Friday’s press conference at the team’s practice facility in Metairie was a homecoming of sorts. The Gretna native, grew up just 20 minutes down the road and played his college ball at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
It was at UL in 2014 as a junior, when Payton led the Ragin’ Cajuns in scoring with 19.2 points per game while helping to lead the team to its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2005. Payton would go on to win the Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year award that year as well as First Team All-Sunbelt Conference honors. At the time Payton graduated, he was Louisiana’s all-time leader in career steals with 197.
Payton was taken in the first round (10th overall) in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, but had his draft rights traded to Orlando in exchange for the draft rights to Dario Saric, a future first round draft pick and a future second rounder.
Payton is now in his fourth NBA season following the 2017-18 season in which he was traded to Phoenix in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick (via Memphis) from Orlando. During the 2017-18 season he played in 63 total games with the Suns and Magic averaged 12.3 PPG 6.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals.