Elrid Payton is returning soon although he may not be at full health to help the New Orleans Pelicans campaign. Elfrid Payton #4 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up before a game against the Sacramento Kings at the Smoothie King Center on October 19, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images/Jonathan Bachman

Elfrid Payton is a player that the New Orleans Pelicans need badly, but that concern may be addressed soon. The latest word on the status of the 24-year-old guard is that he could return as early as next week.

Payton underwent surgery last month to address a fracture in his left pinky, reported. He has only played in six games, averaging 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. When he was still healthy, the Pelicans were 5-1 with him. In all, New Orleans is 15-20 for the season and sit at 14th place in the Western Conference.

According to Will Guillory, Payton could make his return by next week, but he is likely to play on managed minutes. He was given a six-week recovery, but the 10th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft has already been getting up shots at practice.

If they are looking to make the playoffs, bringing back Payton soon could help their cause. Since being taken out of the starting lineup, Tim Frazier has filled up the void. Unfortunately, his numbers leave a lot to be desired. He is averaging only 4.8 points and 4.7 assists in 26 games.

“We were a different team with him on the floor,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said in a report by “So, hopefully, that’s going to be the case when he gets back.”

There is, of course, no assurance that the return of Payton will help the Pelicans run for a playoff spot. With that being said, an alternative would be for New Orleans to check out the free agent market or even the players placed up for trade.

There are several names worth mentioning. That list includes Brandon Knight, John Wall or even Bradley Beal. As mentioned in a previous post, Wall makes a lot of sense, but his enormous contract has turned several teams off. This likely includes the Pelicans, unless they can pull some strings financially.

Brandon Knight, who has been repeatedly mentioned in trade talks, could be an interesting find. With the Rockets, he hasn't exactly been the same prominent player he was when he still wore the Phoenix Suns uniform. He has had his share of ups and downs, although all that can change if he is given the opportunity by a team.

Bradley is another option, but he is more of a shooting guard than a court general. While he may potentially bring in a reliable offense, the Pelicans need someone who can keep the team together and feed Anthony Davis down low.