A source told Basketball Insiders last week that the Pelicans were among the teams interested in Cleveland Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert. Since acquiring Jae Crowder from the Boston Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade, many speculated that Shumpert could be expendable.
Whether Shumpert asked to be traded by the Cavaliers at the end of last season is irrelevant because Cleveland has reportedly shopped him since the start of free agency. One has to think that the recent acquisition of Jae Crowder in the Kyrie Irving trade has further incentivized the Cavaliers to make a move.
Despite this, I find it highly unlikely that Shumpert lands anytime soon in New Orleans. With just 10 healthy players on the roster, the wish for more able-bodied troops is high for the Pelicans, but the team already has five guards ready to go. Standing 6’-5” and almost exclusively playing at shooting guard last season for the Cavaliers, Shumpert wouldn’t fulfill Alvin Gentry’s desire for another large wing to plug the void created by Solomon Hill.
In addition to the question of Shumpert’s fit on the team, his contract — $21,348,315 spread out over two years — is a giant stumbling block. There is a growing sense that the reason the Pelicans didn’t utilize the stretch provision on Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca or Quincy Pondexter was because the team has zero interest in carrying dead weight on future cap sheets.
A core of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore is scheduled to make $73,126,987 and Asik and Ajinca are owed a combined $16,571,910 for the 2018-19 season. If the Pelicans were to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins to a max contract, his salary would likely exceed $30 million. Thus, New Orleans could be on the hook for around $119,698,897 on just these seven players alone, and with the luxury tax line expected to be about $124 million for the 2018-19 season, the Pelicans would have precious little wiggle room to adequately fill out the rest of the roster.
So, unless the Cavaliers or some third team can be talked into Asik’s contract, or perhaps some package including Moore, Ajinca and/or other eligible players, do not expect the Pelicans to add salary to the following season’s salary cap sheet — especially if the player in question doesn’t fill an immediate need.