Who is your ideal free agent target for the New Orleans Pelicans this summer?
Nico Baguio: May be in the minority here but I'd love the idea of Evan Turner. Shooting be damned, I'd rather have more players capable of the ping-ping-ping action that the Spurs/Warriors/Hawks have made vogue than shooting. Of course, if we're talking about ideal but maybe unrealistic candidates, it would be Nicolas Batum. He's everything Turner is and more (shooting, for one).
Kevin Barrios: This free agent crop gives me a lot of anxiety. I believe it is full of opportunities to overspend and not really improve that much if at all. Also, who I'd target depends on so much. Can we figure out a way to dump Omer Asik? Is Tyreke Evans on the team next year? Can we convince Anthony Davis to be the full-time 5? All of these matter in how I'd approach free agency.
If we can move Asik, I'd target Andre Drummond or Hassan Whiteside, but Detroit matches any offer for Drummond. Whiteside will likely go to the Lakers or maybe even Boston with the amount of money they will have to throw around. If Evans gets moved or it seems like he will miss a huge portion of time due to his injury I'd target Jordan Clarkson. If AD says he'll be the center this team needs I'd go after Jared Sullinger, but I would definitely work in some sort of conditioning clause or have an early team opt out in the contract as I'm concerned about his weight and our rich culinary history buckling his knees.
David Fisher: Nicolas Batum is the ideal target by far. He's everything Alvin Gentry asked for in his end-of-season press conference; 6-foot-8 with the ability to be a primary or secondary creator, defensive versatility to defend multiple positions, and a shooting stroke to keep the paint uncluttered for Anthony Davis. This year for the Charlotte Hornets Batum averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists while playing both wing positions and even a little power forward. He's also been durable, playing at least 70 games in each of the last four seasons.
The problem with signing Batum is two-fold. First, the Pelicans do not have the requisite space to sign him without a significant trade or two. Every single big contract New Orleans would need to move features a currently injured (Tyreke Evans or Jrue Holiday) or under-performing (Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca) player. It will be difficult. Secondly, competition for Batum is going to be significant. The Hornets, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics can all offer a max contract without breaking up their playoff rotations. Out west, the Minnesota Timberwolves (where Batum originally signed in his first turn in free agency) offer a young roster brimming with talent. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Batum is the best free agent wing below the Kevin Durant / LeBron James tier. Almost every NBA team will make the necessary moves to sign him if Batum makes his interest known.
Jonny Harvey: In the land of centers, why not make a run at Al Horford? Some speculate Orlando has a huge edge, but why not pair himself with the best power-forward in the game? Horford brings a lot to the table, and he’s generally healthy. He started and played in all 82 games this season, and he started in 76 the year prior. Horford rebounds well, sets hard screens, and can create from the high post. He dominated the Wizards so bad last year, I had nightmares about his offensive rebound for days.
Quentin Haynes: Nicolas Batum. That "Six-foot-seven forward who can create on offense and play defense" is right there. Batum would be an excellent addition for the Pelicans, giving them a nice forward who can shoot, distribute and play good defense. He’ll get the max, and if I’m New Orleans, I’m paying him to be the number two guy behind Anthony Davis.
Oleh Kosel: There will be some tantalizing options during the next free agency period, but few of the bigger names make legitimate sense for the Pelicans. Additionally, we need to presuppose the introduction of the additional cap space flooding thirty budgets will make most, if not all targets, unattainable. It's a seller's market: the competition will be fierce and the next wave of free agents are going to have more choices than their predecessors.
I've expressed my love for Nicolas Batum for as long as I can remember so I won't rehash that argument; besides, Fish has already mentioned above the difficultly in bringing him to New Orleans. Al Horford is intriguing, but alas his age and potential suitors ensures he will wind up elsewhere. Thus in all likelihood, I'm calling for a quieter approach to free agency. Trade routes are more preferable (this roster needs to be changed, not have some band-aids thrown on) and it's best to wait for 2017 than overpay Barnes, Bazemore and others.
By quieter, though, I'm not advocating for no moves. First, Tim Frazier and James Ennis must be re-signed. Their abilities to contribute in Alvin Gentry's system is undeniable and they both could be absorbed on very team friendly deals. Next, the Pelicans need to add at least another front court player with range to replace Ryan Anderson. Below are my targets in order.
- Andrew Nicholson is an under appreciated offensive player. He wouldn't require as many shot attempts as the Flamethrower and his versatility would be welcome. He's strong on the defensive glass plus he possesses good skills in the post, currently an eyesore for the Pelicans.
- Darrell Arthur is another 6'9'' player that can really space the floor. His rebounding prowess isn't on Nicholson's level but the main reason he sits number two on my list is because I believe his price tag will come at a significantly higher price.
- Terrence Jones/Donatas Motiejunas (restricted FAs) -- the future of these two Rockets is murky because Daryl Morey supported the crazy decision to bring back Josh Smith to steal their minutes. Seriously. Anyways moving on, I'm a fan of both but would prefer Jones.
Owen Sanborn: In an ideal world, the Pelicans would be able to sign Al Horford to a max deal and form a dynamic front court duo with Anthony Davis. However, even I must admit that that is a pipe dream to the highest regard. The sexy picks are presumably going to be Kent Bazmore and Harrison Barnes, so I will refrain from jumping on that train. An intriguing target to me would be someone like Terrence Jones. Though he is restricted, Jones had an off season and is at the mercy of Daryl Morey, so his market will be unpredictable. I would also not be against targeting nominal glue guys like Luol Deng, Courtney Lee or -- one of my personal favorites -- Ian Mahinmi if the price is right.