As probably could have been expected, Marc Spears of Yahoo! reported that Brian Roberts did not receive a qualifying offer from the New Orleans Pelicans and will now be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Point guard Brian Roberts did not get a qualifying offer from the Pelicans & will be an unrestricted free agent, his agent Andy Miller said.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 28, 2014
For the Pelicans the decision probably became very easy when they acquired the rights to Russ Smith on draft day as the qualifying offer to Roberts jumped to over $3 million once he started his 41st game this season. For team with a gaping need at small forward and other cheaper backup point guard options on the roster it just did’t make sense to extend the offer to Roberts and risk him accepting it. Considering the fact that it looks very likely that Austin Rivers will be sent out in a trade at some point to make enough room for the Omer Asik trade to work this likely leaves the backup point guard duties to the rookie Smith for 15 or so minutes a night.
For Roberts, who averaged 23.2 minutes, 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game this season it shouldn’t be too hard to find a place to play in the NBA next season after finally making the league two years ago with the Pelicans. In fact there is a small chance that the place is back in New Orleans if they aren’t happy with what they see with Smith in the Las Vegas Summer League and Roberts is still around.
This year was a tough one for Roberts who was asked to play beyond his capabilities by starting so many games. In all reality Roberts should be best used as a shooter off the bench but instead was asked to actually run the offense to much this year leading to some tough on/off court numbers. But injuries forced Roberts into action and he did the best he could, which just wasn’t enough.
The move seems the first of many for the Pelicans this offseason and the first of the two qualifying offer decisions they had to make. News on Darius Miller should be coming at some point soon, as the deadline for qualifying offers is Monday. Miller likely will also not be extended the qualifying offer though there is probably a greater chance that he returns for the 2014-2015 season than Roberts. This all sets up what should be a busy free agency period for the team who will be looking for a starting small forward and some other depth to compete for a playoff spot next season.