After sitting through approximately 5 hours of the NBA draft, it was announced the Pelicans had selected Branden Dawson with the 56th pick of the 2015 NBA draft. Not ten minutes later, it was confirmed the pick and the rights to Dawson had been sold to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The sequence of the events made for a lot of unhappy fans, some were even outraged. Besides wasting a good deal of personal time, many were upset to see the organization have a reunion with their old pal, cash considerations. Fans were furious it signaled the organization was cheap. That perhaps Tom Benson was likely looking for a little extra money to pay all the lawyers he's recently had working on his payroll to prove his competency in court against blood relatives.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
First of all, do you know how often the lowest tier of second round draft picks go on to have successful NBA careers? Very few.
The guys taken 50 or later in the last 9 years (99 picks) who are regular rotation players currently: Isaiah Thomas Patty Mills That's it.— Michael McNamara (@McNamara247) June 26, 2015
Michael recently took time to see if he could find any commonality between all the successful draft picks made towards the end of second rounds of NBA drafts. As you can see, he came up with a very bleak result.
Thus, instead of Dell Demps trusting New Orleans had selected the winning lottery ticket, he made the prudent choice: he sold the rights to another team.
Cost for the #Clippers to get pick No. 56 -- approx $600,000 per source— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) June 26, 2015
Considering how much players, owners and agents make in the NBA, $600,000 sure seems like an insignificant sum to take a chance on unproven talent. Yet, upon closer inspection, consider what teams can do with what appears to be small savings on the balance sheet.
1. Teams could entice a slew of undrafted free agents (players who missed out on getting drafted) to join their Summer League teams. For some, all it takes is paying for their lodging and per diem. For others, it requires a little more incentive in the form of some additional guaranteed money.
For instance, Patric Young went this route with the Pelicans last season but his paid compensation paled in comparison to the sum of 600K. Hence, teams can invite at least several just-missed-getting-drafted types for a fraction of the cost the Pelicans made yesterday when they sold the pick to the Clippers.
If Demps wasn't enamored with Dawson or he felt equally as strong with a number of other undrafted players, he made the correct choice. Rather than try to hit the lottery with one ticket, Demps could possibly hedge his bets with at least 4 or 5 (remember the Pelicans Summer League team only has several commitments thus far) and save a whole lot of money in the process.
2. During the 2013-14 season, the Pelicans traded a future conditional draft pick (that turned out to be Edin Bavcic) for Tyshawn Taylor and cash. At the time, many of us were smiling at cash considerations again but guess what? Less than two weeks later, New Orleans signed Luke Babbitt.
Fish broke down all the details nicely in his 2014 review of Babbitt. The Pelicans 'cheapness' resulted in trading away a player that was never going to step onto the floor of an NBA game for Babbitt, a useful piece (he has played over 1300 minutes for New Orleans). By initially trading for cash considerations, the money gained more than easily paid for all over his first season.
3. Remember when Greg Stiemsma was waived just prior to the conclusion of the 2014 season? The Times Picayune was so quick to ridicule the Pelicans organization that they failed to grasp the true reasoning behind the signing of Melvin Ely.
Without this move, the trade for Omer Asik would have looked much differently. Most likely, one of the core players at the time (it was rumored to be Austin Rivers) would have been needed to be a part of the out-going salary. However, thanks to Demps' foresight, the Pelicans adept planning not only made perfect use of Ely's unguaranteed contract, but also turned another late second round pick into the unguaranteed contract of Alonzo Gee as well as cash considerations brought Scotty Hopkins on board.
All three players were used by the Pelicans to satisfy the salary requirement in trading for Asik. The Houston Rockets welcomed the these contracts because they were able to waive them immediately as they only sought the first round pick from New Orleans.
There are further examples that could be delved into, but I hope the point has been made. Don't make the repeated mistake of worrying about image or thinking the Pelicans are petty. Since Tom Benson has taken ownership of the team, stinginess has never been the case so no one should logically believe it happened during the 2015 NBA draft.
Perhaps the Pelicans toss some of the $600,000 gained yesterday towards several undrafted free agents like Jonathan Holmes, Christian Wood or Aaron Harrison. Maybe the organization decides to save the capital for the upcoming free agency period.
Who knows for sure, but one thing we can be positive of, Dell Demps will find better use for it. After having spent $77,405,661 on last season's payroll, the 7th highest amount in the league, do you still really believe the cheap argument holds any water?