Will Naji Marshall be on the Pelicans’ roster next season?
The New Orleans Pelicans will have some tough roster decisions to make this offseason, including what to do with Naji Marshall.
Marshall is under contract for $1.7 million next season, but it is not fully guaranteed, so the Pels could buy him out if they wanted to open his spot on the roster.
Marshall was disappointing this season, seeing all of his numbers dip after a promising rookie season where he flashed a lot of potential as a versatile 3-and-D wing.
But he shot just 40 percent from the field this season and a woeful 20 percent from 3-point range in 55 games for the Pelicans. He was in and out of the rotation all season, though his minutes did pick up down the stretch and he appeared in all of the Pels’ six playoff games vs. the Suns.
The Pelicans need some insurance for both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram next season, but won’t have many ways to get it without making a trade. If they were to trade for a more reliable veteran for this spot, Naji’s days in New Orleans might be numbered.
Should the New Orleans Pelicans bring Naji Marshal back next season?
Pelicans roster: What to do with Naji Marshall?
Bring him back!
The New Orleans Pelicans’ roster is about to get very expensive, so they need guys who can produce on low-ball contracts.
Though Marshall took a step back in some ways this season, he is still a high energy guy who can defend, run the floor and handle the ball a little on perimeter. If he could even become a league-average 3-point shooter, he’d be well worth that contract.
The Pelicans could try to make a splashy trade to improve this spot, but that would likely require them to send out their 2022 Draft pick or Jaxson Hayes, which is an expensive price to pay when you potentially have a guy already under contract who can make an impact.
Naji wasn’t great this season but cheap production off the bench is extremely valuable to playoff teams, so they should bring him back and see if he has another level.
I’ve seen enough!
It’s hard to envision how Naji Marshall gets minutes next season if he couldn’t get them this season, as the Pelicans are likely to be deeper and better.
He’s already behind Brandon Ingram, Herbert Jones, Larry Nance Jr. Jaxson Hayes and Trey Murphy III on the depth chart and not likely to beat any of those guys out next season. And that’s before the Pelicans add another top-10 draft pick who could also be a forward, adding to the logjam and pushing Marshall back even further. He’s likely to catch a lot of “DNP-coach’s decisions” next season, so what is the point of bringing him back?
Also, the Pelicans need 3-point shooting, and Marshall was absolutely terrible from there this season. Nearly 40 percent of his shots came from 3-point range and he only made 20 percent of them, so the Pelicans need to try and add a guy who can knock down open shots, which are going to be aplenty once Zion and BI are drawing away all of the defenders.
The Pels can find another guy on a minimum deal who is better than Naji Marshall, and they have three second-round picks in 2022 to try.
The Pelicans need low-cost players and will have to decide if they can upgrade from Marshall and if they can, he might be finished in New Orleans.