The New Orleans Pelicans will be watching these free agents closely.
The New Orleans Pelicans will need to patch some holes in their roster, get bigger, more athletic and find some people who can defend.
These next few weeks in the bubble will be a great chance for free agents to audition for their new teams.
The Pels will be looking for some interior defense, toughness, a 3-and-D wing and possibly a backup point guard. Some of these will come via the draft or trade, but the rest will likely come in free agency.
How much the Pelicans have to spend really depends on what they do with their own free agents, and whether they make some sort of trade to clear cap space.
We’ve broken the bubble free agents into four categories depending on how they might help the Pelicans or how likely they are to end up in New Orleans.
Let’s start with the high-end wish list.
Premium Free Agents for the New Orleans Pelicans
Ok, let’s face it, after extending Brandon Ingram and possibly re-signing a few of their own free agents, the Pelicans are not going to have a lot of money to spend.
They could make a trade, dump a big salary and possibly clear some space, but it’s unlikely the Pelicans would be able to afford any of these players without going deep into the tax or trading a few high-priced veterans.
But we can dream, no?
Serge Ibaka- Toronto Raptors
Ibaka is the player who most embodies everything the Pelicans need in one guy. He defends, rebounds, has some toughness, blocks shots and can stretch the floor. He’d be perfect with Zion Williamson and is a proven winner who has playoff chops.
This probably couldn’t happen without some kind of sign and trade, which is unlikely, so Serge will have to remain a pipe dream. He’ll probably just end up re-signing with Toronto anyway.
Goran Dragic- Miami Heat
A point guard who can score, set up others and get his own shot? Sign me up please. Dragic is the type of veteran point guard who would be perfect off the Pelicans’ bench or even in their starting lineup.
He’s 33, but can still play at a high level, knock down 3-pointers and penetrate via the dribble.
Alas, he’ll probably re-sign with Miami or go to a team that would offer him a starting job. Either way, he’ll be out of the Pelicans’ range.
Montrezl Harrell- Los Angeles Clippers
26-year-old Montrezl Harrell is one of the best bench players in the league, can rebound, defend multiple positions and brings some edge to the Clippers. He’s the type of guy that will get 20 points on putbacks and run-outs while defending the other team’s best player.
He and Lou Williams have made the Clippers’ bench the best in the league and are a big reason they are favorites to win a title.
But Harrell is going to get paid by someone and the Pels are unlikely to have the space to be that team. It’s too bad, as he’d be a great fit.
Danilo Gallinari- OKC Thunder
Gallinari is one of the best stretch-fours in the league and would basically be the premium version of the mediocre Nicolo Melli. Gallinari runs the pick-and-roll as well as any big in the NBA, shoots over 40% from long-range, can rebound and make plays off the dribble.
Gallinari would actually do what Melli is supposed to be doing, but he’ll be making WAY more than Melli and will probably not be on the Pelicans’ radar.