5 Pelicans who definitely won't be back, 2 who shouldn't return next season

These Pelicans could be wearing a different uniform to start the 2024-25 season.
New Orleans Pelicans, Brandon Ingram
New Orleans Pelicans, Brandon Ingram / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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Won’t be back: Naji Marshall

Marshall becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Pelicans will have to pay more than the minimum to keep him in the Big Easy. The 26-year-old is just entering his prime and coming off a year where he averaged 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 19.0 minutes per game over 66 contests. Marshall shot 46.3 percent from the field and 38.7 percent on his threes, which were both career-highs.

New Orleans has $152.3 million committed in salaries for next season. The luxury tax is projected to be $172 million. They have never paid the tax and dipped under this season at the trade deadline. Jonas Valanciunas is also a free agent. New Orleans needs a starting center and has less than $20 million to play with. If they want to stay in playoff contention, Marshall likely becomes a cap casualty.

What does New Orleans do behind Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram at the forward spots? Herb Jones and Larry Nance Jr. might play a bit more, but the Pelicans will need a reserve capable of averaging 20-ish minutes per game. That playing time will increase whenever one of their stars misses time.

The Pels would love to bring back Naji Marshall, but it likely comes at the expense of another player. They are just too close to the luxury tax and still need a starting-caliber big man.