David Griffin and the New Orleans Pelicans continued their recent streak of successful transactions. They didn’t throw the farm at appealing stars but instead brought in cost-friendly veterans to aid their rebuild.
Every move this organization has made since January has been calculated, we knew the New Orleans Pelicans weren’t entering this free agency period as impulse buyers—despite the big names on the market. The team didn’t break the bank, incorporated pieces that weren’t necessarily going to stunt the growth of their younger core guys, and now are in a position to perhaps host a couple of games in the Smoothie King Center come mid-April.
Griffin understands well the value of spreading the floor, look at how he constructed the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers around their big three of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and LeBron James. They entered this free agency period without much presence of a threat behind the arc, but that changed.
J.J. Redick is fresh off a career year with the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 18.1 points per contest while connecting on 3.2 three-point field goals a game on 39.7 percent. Darius Miller led the Pelicans last season in three-point makes with 133. Redick nearly doubled that total last year with 240.
He’s going to be 35-years-old entering this next season, but it’s not exactly like his game is predicated on athleticism. Redick is a smart player, moves well without the basketball and is adept at coming off of curls and getting his shot up quickly. The Pelicans were already going to be a transition nightmare for opposing defenses and now with the addition of Redick running to the corner—good luck.
The team has a very enticing young core of players, but they needed a veteran presence outside of Jrue Holiday. Redick brings invaluable experience to that locker room and by all accounts he’s a great individual. Gentry will rely on him to provide insight and guidance to their younger players who are still finding their way. It’s not just that he’s one of the better marksmen in NBA history (21st all-time in 3PT FG’s), he brings a quality not measured by stats—he’s personable, an often underrated aspect of a player.
The term is worth mentioning if his age is a genuine concern. At an average of $13.25M over the next two seasons, he’s well worth the investment. Think about it from this perspective, Griffin essentially turned Solomon Hill‘s contract (add in one more year) into J.J Redick’s. And if last season serves as an indicator, his game is unlikely to flounder over a two-season span.
Acquiring J.J Redick wasn’t the only move made during the opening day of free agency, they also made a trade with the Utah Jazz for Derrick Favors.
Griffin illustrated his desire for a “young veteran”, Favors fits the billing. The 27-year-old averaged 11.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in 23.2 minutes of action with the Jazz last year.
Those statistics don’t necessarily encompass his worth on the basketball court. He’s a utility guy, a great fit on any rotation, as illustrated by his +21 net rating, 7.9 WS, VORP of 2.8, and BPM of 4.3. Compare that to Al Horford who had a +15 net rating, 7.5 WS, VORP of 3.4, and BPM of 4.8—you begin to see his value.
Favors compiled 1.4 blocks, and 0.7 steals per game last season as well. He had a defensive rating of 103 (never has had a rating lower than 108 in his career) and is 11th amongst active players in career block percentage (4.0%).
Look at this game against the Milwaukee Bucks in particular, who were a team that possessed one of the premier defenses in the league. He had his way in the pick and roll and out in transition while also anchoring the defense.
Oh, and it wasn’t just David Griffin that worked his magic—Trajan Langdon deserves some recognition as well.
The first move of the day was signing Nicolo Melli out of the EuroLeague.
The 28-year-old will have his opportunity to crack the rotation, he shot 38.5 percent from distance last year and will likely alleviate shooting woes from the Pelicans’ frontcourt players. According to Will Guillory of TheAthleticNOLA, the Pels view him as a floor-spacing big with good passing instincts.
We don’t know yet what the final roster will look like entering the 2019/20 season or if Griffin and company are done making deals. However, we do know that the direction/construction of this team is in good hands.