Why the CJ McCollum extension was smart for the Pelicans

CJ McCollum #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans inked CJ McCollum to a two-year extension yesterday, so they have him locked up for the next four seasons.

The deal was reportedly for 2 years/$64 million according to Adrian Wojnarowski among others:

This was mostly celebrated by fans of the New Orleans Pelicans, as CJ McCollum has been one of the most reliable players in the NBA over the last seven seasons and is a popular player who had a great start to his career in New Orleans.

But there are always some naysayers, as some bemoaned that this was too much money to give to a player on the wrong side of 30, while others wondered why the Pelicans would do this before they saw how McCollum fits with Zion Williamson:

These are both valid concerns but in my opinion, the CJ McCollum extension is a home run for the Pelicans for several reasons.

New Orleans Pelicans: Money and fit with the CJ McCollum extension

The money is the least concerning thing about the CJ McCollum deal, as McCollum has shown that he is worth every penny both on and off the court. He’s scored 20+ ppg in the last seven seasons, one of just a handful of active NBA players who can make this claim.

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McCollum will make around $33 million per season over the next four years, which is certainly a lot of money. But by NBA standards, this is close to minimum wage for an impact starter. Just look around the league, where you will see far lesser players making this much.

That number is going to look even better in two seasons when the salary camp skyrockets (which is predicted) which will mean McCollum will likely be taking home less than 20 percent of the cap, a great deal for a guy of his talent.

The Pels’ payroll is about to go up, but so is the cap, so the deals they’ve signed with Zion, Brandon Ingram and McCollum are actually going to look like bargains when all of the max guys are making closer to $50 million per season, which is coming soon.

As for fit, give me one reason why CJ McCollum wouldn’t fit with Zion. McCollum is a veteran who has been around enough to know how to fill his role. He can hit tough shots from all over the court, play on the ball or off it and be equally effective, as he was in Portland. This is a guy who wants to win a ring and will do whatever the team needs him to do to get it.

Even though neither he nor Zion are great defenders, the Pelicans are now much better equipped to deal with that, as they have guys like Herb Jones, Larry Nance Jr., Trey Murphy III, Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado and even rookie Dyson Daniels who are versatile defenders to plug into various lineups around CJ and Zion.

Instead of asking how these two will fit, I’ll ask how opposing defenses are going to stop a team with four guys in the starting lineup who can score 20+ ppg on any given night? I guarantee you the opposition has more questions than the Pelicans do when it comes to fit.

This signing also shows that the Pelicans are a serious franchise that top veterans want to play for, as CJ is the president of the player’s union and one of the most respected players in the league. His signature of approval is huge when it comes to attracting future players.

McCollum will still only be 34-years-old when this deal is over, and can then go season-by-season with the Pelicans, hopefully retiring with the team and giving New Orleans a guy who will become a spokesman (and maybe even member of the front office) for the team, an ambassador that New Orleans currently lacks on the basketball side of things.

I could definitely see McCollum taking a front office position at some point and becoming a successful GM or whatever he chooses to be.

The money, fit and future are all there, which makes this a home run signing for the New Orleans Pelicans and CJ McCollum.

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