They have their bigs sorted with Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes and Herbert Jones is holding down the wing.
But the guard situation is less clear, as the Pelicans have Devonte’ Graham, Jose Alvarado and the injured Kira Lewis Jr., who are all small guards that might not fit together.
I wrote about Alvarado’s potential effect on Lewis Jr. but Devonte’ Graham is tied to this situation as well.
It seems unlikely that the Pelicans will go into next season with three small guards on the roster, so one or more of them could be moved.
Graham and Alvarado have both shown more than Kira Lewis Jr. at this point in their respective careers, but would the Pels really part ways with a 20-year-old lottery pick who is coming off a major injury and has little value?
Alvarado is dirt cheap production off the bench, something the Pelicans will desperately need as the top end of their payroll gets heavier with Zion Williamson’s extension hopefully kicking in.
That leaves Graham, who is also on a reasonable contract, but is also having a down season shooting the ball. In his defense, he’s not really been playing in a role that suits him, as he should be a scoring weapon off the bench, not in the starting five, but his contract and uninspiring numbers could make him the one the Pels end up moving in the offseason.
New Orleans Pelicans: Devonte’ Graham’s contract
There are two situations in which Devonte’ Graham’s contract could come into play for the Pelicans.
The first is if they try to make another big trade. Unless they were moving Jonas Valanciunas or one of the Big 3 (highly unlikely), Graham’s contract is the only one they can use to try and offset salaries.
I don’t see the Pelicans making another big trade after acquiring CJ McCollum, but you never know.
The other situation is if the Pels wanted to sign another mid-level free agent that they thought was a better fit and needed the cap space they could create by trading Graham.
Graham will be making $11.5 million next season, while Alvarado and Kira Lewis Jr. will make just $5.5 million combined. Graham is on a moveable deal, so if the Pels needed to clear some cap space, he could be gone to a team that has the space to absorb it without sending equal dollars back.
As crazy as it sounds, I’d say Jose Alvarado is the mostly likely of the three guards to be back, which was unlikely when he joined the team on a two-way contract after going undrafted.
It could come down to Kira Lewis Jr. or Devonte’ Graham and it will be interesting how the Pelicans handle this situation.