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2015 NBA Free Agency: Pelicans interested in Robin Lopez return

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This would be difficult.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this afternoon Real GM Shams Charania reported that the New Orleans Pelicans are interested in free agent center Robin Lopez. Lopez has a history with both new head coach Alvin Gentry when he played for the Phoenix Suns and here in the Crescent City. Lopez's breakout season as a starter was 2012-13 with the then-Hornets where he started 82 games averaging 11.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Digging any deeper than interest shows a rough road to hoe for Dell Demps to bring Lopez into the fold. First, as currently constructed the Pelicans cannot offer anymore than the Mid-Level Exception. That would begin at $5.464 Million; Lopez made $6.1 Million with the Portland Trail Blazers last year according to Basketball Insiders. There simply is not enough money to make a competitive offer to Lopez this route.

The second option would be to utilize cap space. Doing so would require rescinding the qualifying offers to Norris Cole and Jeff Withey while also renouncing the bird rights (or early bird) to Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, and Luke Babbitt while also waiving Toney Douglas. It would also cost the Pelicans the Mid-Level Exception and the Bi-Annual Exception. That offer would begin at $8.6 Million and could reach up to four years and $37 Million. If it worked, the Pelicans would be a total of seven players deep (Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, Anthony Davis, and Quincy Pondexter) with only the room exception ($2.8 Million) and minimum contracts to fill out the remaining eight roster spots.

The third option, far more difficult, would be to work out a sign-and-trade. As with any sign-and-trade discussion the most likely out going pieces from New Orleans would be either Ryan Anderson or Tyreke Evans. I do not see how either fits into the plans of Portland.

It is nice to dream, but the reality of the situation is that Robin Lopez is probably far too costly. That is before any concerns about Lopez's aversion to rebounding; Lopez posted a 13.1% DReb% last year, Asik's was 28.8%. Remember, the biggest trouble that Gentry's teams in Phoenix suffered was an inability to corral the rebound and end possessions on defense.