Local News
1:42 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Pitino: Former Card Russ Smith Reaches Contract Deal With NBA's Pelicans

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino says former Cardinal standout Russ Smith has reached an agreement with the New Orleans Pelicans on his first NBA contract.

Smith was picked 47th in last month’s NBA draft by Philadelphia, but was traded to the Pelicans, who had long been interested in the guard.

"It only takes at the NBA level one team to believe in your talent," Pitino said.    "And we were always convinced that Russ Smith could be an outstanding pro because he can do so many different things."

Smith’s Pelicans will play an exhibition game in Louisville in October against the Miami Heat.

Pitino held a press conference Wednesday to talk about the Cardinals’ preparations for the upcoming season, their first in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

He says he’s generally pleased with the physical development of his team this summer,  but it’s appearing more likely that freshman center Anas Osama Mahmoud will sit out his first season to give him more time to get into playing condition.     

U of L coach Rick Pitino and guard Russ Smith, in 2013.
U of L coach Rick Pitino and guard Russ Smith, in 2013.
Credit Rick Howlett

Pitino says while the 7-1 Mahmoud needs to gain weight, he’s been trying to get senior guard Chris Jones to shed some pounds to improve his quickness.

It hasn’t been easy.

"To give you an idea, our assistant coach, Kenny Johnson, since April, has lost 65 pounds--65 pounds.   Chris Jones, in that (time frame), we finally get Chris Jones to lose 10." 

Pitino says senior forward Wayne Blackshear has responded well to his call to spend more time on the practice court this summer.

U of L opens play in November in Puerto Rico against Minnesota, coached by Pitino’s son, Richard.