New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Devonte’ Graham was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with driving while impaired in Raleigh, North Carolina. North Carolina Highway Patrol made the arrest around 3 a.m. Graham, 27, is a Raleigh native.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol told TMZ Sports that Graham blew a .11 BAC — the legal limit is .08 — after he’d been pulled over shortly before 3 a.m. for driving 63 mph in a 40 mph zone. He is due in court on July 22. That’s when we will learn how far the Wake County District Attorney’s Office plans to take these charges.
The Pelicans acquired Graham last offseason in a sign-and-trade from the Charlotte Hornets for a 2022 first-round pick. The Hornets selected big man Mark Williams with that pick last month. Graham is in year two of a four years, $47.3 million deal.
Since his breakout 2019-20 season Graham has seen his starting role usurped twice in his short NBA career. When the Hornets drafted LaMelo Ball in 2020, Graham became a backup in Charlotte. This past season in New Orleans he was the starter until the Pelicans acquired CJ McCollum at the trade deadline.
The Pelicans stunned the NBA world this postseason as they made the play-in tournament after a dreadful start to the season and the Zion Williamson drama. They defeated the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers to earn the eighth seed.
Not many people gave them a chance to defeat the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns, who dominated the NBA’s regular season and finished with the league’s best record. But the scrappy Pelicans, without Zion, pushed the Suns to six games. Some believe with a healthy Zion they might have won that series.
One of the surprises that emerged for the Pelicans was defensive ace and backup point guard Jose Alvarado.
The undrafted Georgia Tech product from Brooklyn, New York, signed a two-way deal with the Pelicans in 2021 and split time between the G League and New Orleans. His excellent play earned him a standard contract with the team and made him eligible for the playoffs, where he made future Hall of Famer Chris Paul’s life a nightmare. The scrappy Alvarado hounded the “Point God” all series long and earned the legend’s respect.
Alvarado was so good he played the majority of the backup minutes over Graham in that series. The backup point guard spot in New Orleans is a bit more crowded now, especially with Jared Harper and Kira Lewis Jr. also under contract.
Graham is the better player among all the backups, especially on the offensive end. But head coach Willie Green likes defense at the point of attack and Alvarado’s ability on that end of the floor means he will see a ton of minutes. If he can develop consistency in his three-point shooting, particularly of the catch-and-shoot variety, he will push Graham for playing time.
Also of note, the Pelicans are among the only teams that could conceivably put a package together for the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, who requested a trade last week. At Graham’s age and on a good contract, he’s a player that could be included in a potential deal.