The New Orleans Pelicans could have some money to spend in NBA Free Agency, but they might be wise to save their cash and plan for the future instead.
A new era of New Orleans Pelicans basketball is officially kicking off, and there’s a lot to be excited about moving forward. The NBA Draft was truly a magical night with Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker all joining the squad. The next order of business is navigating NBA Free Agency, typically another fun offseason activity to keep close tabs on.
With Anthony Davis (and Solomon Hill) out the door, the New Orleans Pelicans currently only have one player on the roster making more than $10 million, and that’s Jrue Holiday at nearly $27 million. Zion Williamson is currently the second highest paid player on the team with his money for next season sitting just shy of $10 million.
All of this sets the Pelicans up to have a healthy chunk of change to chase free agents beginning June 30th at 6 PM Eastern, but should they? No one is honestly expecting New Orleans to compete for a title next year, and the season will more than likely be a developmental year for Jrue, Zion, Jaxson, Nickeil, and the former Lakers to gel and grow together.
As it stands, with the reported pieces coming back in the Anthony Davis trade, the Pelicans’ rotation could be more or less figured out already. It could look something like this:
PG: Lonzo Ball, Frank Jackson
SG: Jrue Holiday, Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker
SF: Brandon Ingram, E’Twaun Moore
PF: Zion Williamson, Kenrich Williams, Cheick Diallo
C: Jaxson Hayes, Christian Wood, Jahlil Okafor
The starting five here seems like the reasonable choice if the New Orleans Pelicans seriously want to figure out what they have in their new young core. The bench rotation is more fluid, but clearly, there are plenty of returning and new players alike that will demand their share of playing time in order to keep their development moving.
There are some deficiencies in this roster, but that’s really okay. Next year isn’t about winning necessarily, it’s about letting Zion and the kids showing what they can do in the NBA. There’s still a salary floor that must be hit, but this could be done by signing any interested free agents to healthy one-year deals in order to achieve this necessity. A free agent like Elfrid Payton would be a prime candidate for a deal like this.
Taking this approach to NBA Free Agency also ensures the team will have plenty of money to offer extensions or new contracts someday soon to any players coming off their rookie deals. Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will inevitably get raises in the near future, so it might be smart to start setting yourself up now to make sure you have money to offer them when the time comes.
We only have to wait a few more days until we begin to get a clearer picture of what the New Orleans Pelicans will be looking to do in NBA Free Agency. As a lucrative market this summer starts driving the prices up on players around the league, it could be wise to sit this round out.