The New Orleans Pelicans signed Los Angeles Clippers’ restricted free agent Tyrone Wallace to a two-year minimum deal on Labor Day. So much for the holiday, right!?
Tyrone Wallace is an RFA of the Clippers, who issued a Two-Way qualifying offer. He chose to sign the Pelicans’ 2-year, $2.9M minimum-salary offer sheet instead. The first-year of the contract becomes $300K guaranteed on 9/12 (per @ShamsCharania). The Clippers can match.— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) September 4, 2018
The Los Angeles Clippers will have 48 hours to match but are unlikely to do so, as they have already met their threshold of 15 guaranteed contracts and contemplate the five million dollar option on point guard Patrick Beverley.
The Clippers also find themselves on the brink of paying the luxury tax. At $118.2 million already allotted before paying the option on Beverley, the Clippers would be playing with fire should they waive a guaranteed contract and add Wallace’s $1.3 million to the mix.
Our own Kevin Barrios writes why the Pelicans may be interested in the versatile, 6’5 backcourt defender:
I slapped this together from @bball_ref and NBA @nbastats to show why I think the Pelicans desire Tyrone Wallace. His size allows him to play three positions defensively. He isn't a ball pounder as you can see that most of his shots come off of 0-2 dribbles — though his... pic.twitter.com/aCGyt1TR3Q— Kevin Barrios (@kevinbforbounce) September 4, 2018
Zach Lowe was also a proponent of the move for the Pelicans and reminded social media of his own observations about the 2016 second round pick (60) in a column written this past March.
With his two-way contract up, let’s take a moment to laud Tyrone Wallace’s improbable contributions to the Clippers’ improbable season. The very last pick in the 2016 draft -- a dude who didn’t appear in an NBA game until this season -- has filled gaps in makeshift Clipper lineups with heady, unselfish play.
Wallace makes quick decisions -- smart passes, and instant catch-and-go drives that show a sophisticated understanding of how and when rotating defenses expose corridors.
He has a surprising ability to create something from nothing as the shot clock ticks down -- key for the Clippers, who have looked understandably disjointed and improvisational since the Blake Griffin trade.
Wallace has hit eight of nine on isolation plays, per Synergy Sports. His jagged, arrhythmic off-the-bounce game confounds defenders.
He has guarded three positions on defense, and allowed Doc Rivers to limit the minutes Lou Williams and Milos Teodosic -- sieves on defense -- have played together against opposing starters. He has softened the blow of Avery Bradley’s continued absence.
Jos Riddell of Draft Express offers his thoughts on the defensive versatility of the former Bruin:
“Defensively if where Wallace has real merit as a NBA prospect, as his size and length give him the potential to guard multiple positions. He’s willing to move his feet on the perimeter, fight through screens and not quit on the play when he is beaten off the dribble. He plays well in a team concept as well by making the right rotations and recoveries. He has the chance to be a real asset defensively.”
Wallace’s offer with the Pelicans is only partially guaranteed, with a $300k bonus coming on September 12th. He will still have to earn his place come training camp for one of the highly coveted remaining positions on the Pelicans’ regular season roster.
His competition includes big men:
Emeka and Jahlil Okafor
Troy Williams, Kenrich Williams, and Garlon Green
Newly acquired journeyman with size, Darius Morris
It is important to note that the Pelicans have been desperately seeking depth at point guard, being linked to such players as Mario Chalmers, Dennis Schroeder, Yogi Ferrell, and Isaiah Thomas, to name a few.
Tyrone Wallace, though, seems to fit the mold of need, as well as General Manager Dell Demps’ offseason direction of getting younger. In fact, at 24 years of age, he fits right alongside Payton (24), Randle (23), and Okafor (22) in the front office’s offseason youth movement.
In addition, Wallace’s defensive versatility, and 6’10 wingspan could give him an edge over other small forward candidates in Williams, Williams and Green (sounds like a law firm!).
The odds have Wallace and the younger Okafor claiming two of the remaining spots, with the final one possibly remaining open for future wheelings and dealings of Dell Demps, but the competition in camp should be fierce, nonetheless.
In fact, one of Williams, Williams and Green could earn themselves a two-way contract alongside Trevon Bluiett.
We discuss these roster questions and many more from our mailbag with Oleh Kosel, Kevin Barrios and David Grubb on The Bird Calls Podcast. If you like it, retweet it!
So, who do YOU think will fill out the remaining spaces in the Pelicans’ roster?