The New Orleans Pelicans struck two deals today to shore up an anemic perimeter defense. First, Dell Demps and company zeroed in on former Indiana Pacers small forward Solomon Hill, agreeing to a four year, $48 million deal with incentives that could increase the value above $50 million. Second, later this evening they sealed an agreement with former Chicago Bulls shooting guard E'Twaun Moore. That pact is reportedly for four years and $34 million.
Just how much do the Pelicans have left to spend in free agency? Dollars available are certainly dwindling unless some significant compromises (or a substantial trade) are made in the coming days. Let's look at what we know up to this point. Like I did a couple days ago, I have made a few adjustments that you will not find elsewhere.
Cheick Diallo does not have a cap hold. However, for our purposes I am giving him a $1.2 million cap hold. That's about what the 33rd pick last year, Jordan Mickey, signed for in his first season with the Boston Celtics. If New Orleans signed Cheick Diallo with an exception (either the room or minimum) they would be able to sign him to a maximum of two years. Since full Bird Rights take three seasons under contract to accrue, it is in the Pelicans' best interests to sign Diallo with cap space and not an exception.
UPDATE: The NBA released official salary cap numbers this afternoon. Accurate salary cap numbers below instead of estimates.
League sets salary cap at $94.143 million.— Larry Coon (@LarryCoon) July 2, 2016
Luxury tax level is $113.287 million.— Larry Coon (@LarryCoon) July 2, 2016
NBA's maximum salary figures for 2016-17:— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertRandom1) July 3, 2016
0-6 years: $22,116,750
7-9 years: $26,540,100
10+ years: $30,963,450
Salary Cap Picture
Note: The salary cap next year is estimated at $108 million. Despite what you might read, the Pelicans could have over $38 million in cap room next summer. Even before potentially amnestying Omer Asik.
Right now the Pelicans have $2.2 million in functional cap space if they intend on signing Diallo with cap room. (As I mention above, highly recommended.) The salary numbers for Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore are estimated based on reports from Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate. Both result in values just over the reported amounts; $48,037,500 for Hill and $34,160,000 for Moore.
That cap space will be needed, and may not even be enough, to match any offers Tim Frazier will receive. The Pelicans do not hold his Bird Rights. In order to match they must use cap space or an exception. Those tools are in short supply. The most the Pelicans can offer Frazier right now in a four year contract is four year, $14.5 million deal starting at $3,398,318.
Creating more cap space is tricky, but there are a couple realistic avenues. First, the Pelicans could get really lucky and Tim Frazier could agree to sign for the entire room exception; two years and just under $6 million. That is probably under his market value so this is a long shot. However, by signing Frazier with an exception they would clear out his hold on the cap. After doing that and waiving both Toney Douglas (unguaranteed) and Luke Babbitt ($200k guaranteed) New Orleans would have about $5.7 million in cap room. That's still not a whole lot to work with.
Maybe a trade?
However, the focus on getting a guard and the desire to retain Tim Frazier could also spell the ultimate demise of Tyreke Evans in a Pelicans uniform. Trade Tyreke away and the Pelicans could have over $12 million in cap space to use in the coming days. I outlined a couple potential trade partners before free agency began, and some of those potential landing spots (Detroit and Brooklyn) have filled their needs at point guard.
One trade partner, however, stands apart from the others. The Chicago Bulls, who just watched Dell Demps steal E'Twaun Moore out from under them for a very reasonable price. Chicago's only point guard is Jose Calderon while they have Robin Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson as rotation big men. Trading the expiring contract of Taj Gibson (who would fit perfectly in NOLA) for Tyreke Evans (who fills a need in Chicago) makes so much sense.
I have a feeling that Dell Demps is not done this summer. He may lie in wait for a team who fails to hit their targets to reach out, but Tyreke Evans is the most likely player to be moved. Keep checking back for more updates!