Now that the Pelicans know their fate in the draft lottery -- the 6th pick as projected if you somehow did not know -- I have officially given up on the idea of seeing a Jimmy Butler-Anthony Davis duo next season in New Orleans. Thus, it is time to focus on the remaining moves the Pelicans have at their disposal to keep the resident superstar happy.
The 2016 sixth overall pick should be used on a two-way guard like Buddy Hield, Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray to fill out the bench or even the starting lineup. Next, this offseason will be filled with plenty of talented free agents and new teams giving up on current rosters in hopes of better producing a winner.
The Pelicans’ total salaries add up to $64,916,083, leaving the team around $25M in cap space to play with (note: this is not as valuable as it used to be with the cap jump and all). Looking at the current roster there are a few glaring holes; however, the number one priority should be finding a small forward who can perform on both sides of the ball. Free agents who may fit the bill include: Nicolas Batum, LeBron James, Chandler Parsons (P), Harrison Barnes (Re), Jeff Green, Matt Barnes, Luol Deng, Kevin Durant, and Maurice Harkless (Re).
Are there some free agents on the list that the Pelicans can only dream of signing? Sure, just as there are names the Pelicans probably should never think twice. So, I want to focus on that small grey area in between because there within lies the Pelicans’ potential future.
With the small forward position being the biggest hole on the roster, there are two obvious superstars that the Pelicans could waste their time courting (LeBron and KD); however since the team has such an astronomical chance of landing neither, the Pelicans should focus their resources on signing one of the second tier players before the superstars sign and the market jumps inflates prices. My personal favorites on this list are: Harrison Barnes, Chandler Parsons, and Jeff Green.
I am aware that the Warriors will probably be able to finagle their roster and be able to re-sign Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, even if both have around $18M needs to be offered to them, and I honestly do not feel comfortable giving Barnes any more money even though he is a solid player.
Chandler Parsons might be looking to make his way out of Dallas after the failed attempt to land Deandre Jordan, the early playoff elimination, and an aging Dirk Nowitzki. However even if Parsons is looking to leave, he will probably command a $20+ million deal, seeing as he is one of the few 6’9 guys in the league who can shoot, dribble, and play defense (well sometimes) at a high rate. For me his skill set is a dream come true, but the last thing this team needs is to add yet another injury prone player.
So, we're left with Jeff Green, a 6’9, 235lbs, 29-year old, who is probably looking for his last big deal but a player who has usually failed to meet expectations on a consistent basis. He might represent the Pelicans’ best option. He has always shown signs of exhibiting enviable two-way player status, most recently off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers. The best part is his current salary of $9.2M is palatable -- the Pelicans would not have to jump into the $20M neighborhood that Barnes and Parsons are likely to fetch and possibly leave room to add a second key player.
It's a bit painful to admit, but Green may be the best candidate at small forward the Pelicans could sign at this point in time (without a trade). Keep in mind, he would represent an actual small forward as opposed to what the Pelicans have worked with over the past few years, he is not overly expensive, and he can be solid on both sides of the ball.
If the Pelicans can land Jeff Green for around $14-16M a year, I am all for it -- I am sick of seeing this team playing without a small forward! What do you guys think about this price range? Too high? Not a good enough player? Did I overlook someone else? Let me know in the comments.