Omer Asik has reached an agreement to re-sign with the New Orleans Pelicans. As with any new contract, this one will actually be signed after the NBA moratorium period ends on July 9th. Since Asik and Alexis Ajinca have both agreed to new contracts it is an absolute certainty that the Pelicans will be operating as a team above the salary cap. Dell Demps can still bring back nearly everyone for the 2014-15 version using bird rights, or an exception in the case of Dante Cunningham. Norris Cole remains a restricted free agent.
The big numbers of this deal, five years and $60 Million, are roughly in line with what I predicted in the very beginning. However, as the market started to shape up I expected Asik's price to drop with so many centers available in free agency. There is a significant tinge of the Pelicans negotiating against themselves here. While the new television deal pushes contracts skyward I thought Demps could wait out the market and be patient with Omer Asik.
However, as Scott Kushner has reported, some portion of this contract is not guaranteed. Non-guaranteed contracts become extremely valuable trade chips down the line. In order to get a player to agree to this Demps had to make sacrifices. Those sacrifices, quite clearly, were in the number of years and dollars on the top line of the contract. Normally most NBA contracts are fully guaranteed and discussing the top line numbers (years, total dollars) is a relatively easy exercise. Asik's contract is more like an NFL contract.
Omer Asik is finalizing a five-year, $60M deal to return to the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015
Hearing that the final year of Omer Asik's new contract in New Orleans is not guaranteed. Guaranteed cash in the deal roughly $45 million— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 2, 2015
Full contract. Confirmed by #Pelicans sources: 5 years, $58 million. Only $44 million guaranteed for Omer Asik.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) July 2, 2015
5/60 for Omer is Nice. Wish the Cs had gotten him. pic.twitter.com/guKWnBr7rD— The man with the #'s (@ArturoGalletti) July 2, 2015
This is, essentially, a four year contract. Doing some quick math this is an educated guess on what Omer Asik's contract looks like over the long haul.
That final year is completely unguaranteed according to Kushner's most recent report. That's the big get for Dell Demps. I remain of the belief that the Pelicans could have been more patient here and allowed the market to exert some downward force on Asik's asking price. However, negotiating in good faith and making sure their own players realize they are valued here in the organization also has intangible benefits down the line.
As a percentage of the salary cap Asik will haul in right around 12%. Putting that number in perspective, 12% of the salary cap last season (2014-15) was right about $7.5 Million. Omer Asik counted for $8.4 Million last year, a little over 13% of the cap.
My opinion on Asik as a basketball player is well known. Asik is much better than the eye test, consistently improving the team around him despite of his very obvious limitations. The Pelicans were much better with Asik on the court than off of it last year, especially in the second half of the season. Alvin Gentry's teams in Phoenix were better than many realize on defense, but struggled mightily with collecting defensive rebounds, which pushed their defensive rating down significantly. Rebounding is Asik's greatest strength.
Omer Asik is not going to be Andrew Bogut this season. The Bird Writes has examined that in depth through both a round table and an analysis article. Readers here were clear, they expect Asik to be more successful under Alvin Gentry. 64% said Asik will be more effective with the new coaching staff.
Salary Cap Update
Numbers for Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca are my best guess given the details announced.
None of this is terribly debilitating. The Pelicans still have significant cap space next summer and their own draft picks. Given where New Orleans stands the possibility of them trading a future pick has decreased. Alvin Gentry and Dell Demps obviously like this roster as it was constructed and any moves to upgrade the talent will be minor this summer.
In the span of 24 hours the Pelicans committed over $200 Million (considering guarantees) to three players; Anthony Davis, Alexis Ajinca, and Omer Asik. The rest of July is not going to be terribly exciting. The summer league team is probably going to be absolutely awful with Seth Curry lingering as one potential bright spot.
The time for big splashes has passed for this flock of Pelicans. Settle in for a long, and hopefully uneventful, off season.