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2017 NBA Free Agency: Several key names are off the board but Pelicans may be aiming higher

Looking for that possible big splash by New Orleans.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday witnessed a flurry of activity in the NBA, with a number of free agents agreeing to new deals, but everything remained quiet on the New Orleans Pelicans front — which may not be a bad thing at all.

The biggest announcement came from Paul Millsap, who will now call the Denver Nuggets home, but a number of key role players reached agreements with teams: Jodie Meeks, Kyle Korver, Justin Holiday and Ben McLemore.

The Pelicans were interested in at least two of these names from the list, with the most linked player being of course Jrue Holiday’s brother. Considering the 28-year-old is coming off a productive campaign for the Knicks and had repeatedly stated of his desire to play with his younger sibling in the past, it was mildly surprising to see the Chicago Bulls nab him for $9 million dollars over the next two years.

If Dell Demps was keen on the elder Holiday, why didn’t he offer a similar sum with part of the Pelicans non taxpayer mid level exception (MLE)? My guess, the same as it was on Saturday, is that either the front office was hoping to land him with the bi-annual exception (BAE) or was not able to commit to him yet because of bigger targets in mind, perhaps via free agency or trade.

One such potential candidate could be Nick Young because he can shoot like so few others in the league.

However, the problem is that the shiny bling emanating from the Golden State Warriors locker room may be too much to pass up for the guy who likes center stage. It doesn’t bode well for other interested teams that he was witnessed partying with Draymond Green on Snapchat.

Three other names to watch are Darren Collison, Dante Cunningham and C.J. Miles. The former Hornet may be one of the better kept secrets in the league and I delved into his value back in April. Kevin’s season review of Cunningham recently covered all the bases on why Dell Demps would probably love to have him remain in New Orleans. Miles was once teammates with Solomon Hill, but more importantly, assistant coach Jamelle McMillan’s father is the head coach of the Indiana Pacers — familiarity with the sharp shooter should not be a problem.

For the BAE, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pelicans kick the tires on Vinsanity. During halftime of the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks summer league game yesterday on NBAtv, Vince Carter revealed he’s not interested in ring chasing and sitting towards the end of a championship-caliber bench. Although he claimed he’s still involved in talks with Memphis, he is looking around the league for opportunity because despite his age, “I know the game well enough.” He claimed he has been focusing on two things in recent past few offseasons: maintaining an elite jumpshot and remaining a great defender through being vocal on the floor.

With everyone focused on the free agency period, though, I feel not enough due has been given to the trade market — and this is where Dell Demps is likely to make his biggest mark. I examined Jeremy Lin and Eric Bledsoe yesterday, but you can bet there are other players who are available. For instance, two teams to watch are the Nuggets and Hawks.

With Denver landing Millsap but also having interest in George Hill or re-signing Danilo Gallinari, they need to create additional cap space. The Pelicans are not a suitable direct trade partner in most scenarios, lacking sufficient space themselves, but a three-way deal wouldn’t be out of the question. In addition to their overabundance of power forwards, the Nuggets might be fielding offers on either Wilson Chandler or Will Barton.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, general manager Travis Schlenk is staring right at a rebuild after losing Millsap and trading Dwight Howard. Kent Bazemore could probably be had for less than full price after his underwhelming season to kick off a 4-year $70 million contract.

Honestly, I’m not all that surprised the New Orleans Pelicans have been quiet since coming to terms with Jrue Holiday. The front office either has lofty expectations for their MLE and BAE exceptions, or hopefully, they’re first seeking to find an additional potent piece through trade — the kind of big value they possibly can’t add through free agency.