It's been a while since I’ve dreamed about a basketball roster. The New Orleans Pelicans face an offseason of potentially monumental change. The lottery and a possible (probable?) Anthony Davis trade will remake this roster. So let’s dive into what one Pelican fan (me) hopes will happen over the next couple months.
No, this is not a prediction of what will happen.
No, not all the way to the top for Zion Williamson. This isn’t because I think Ja Morant is a better individual player than Zion. That would be a foolish thing to write. It is because, for the sixth straight season, I’m on my couch watching Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs. As long as David Griffin is committed to Alvin Gentry, the Pelicans are going to need a dynamic point guard. Or, maybe the second coming of the point god.
Tomorrow I introduce consensus Top 2 pick in 2019 NBA Draft - Murray State guard Ja Morant (@igotgame_12) on the Posted Up w/ C. Haynes Pod. Subscribe below to have episode waiting for you in the morning. The kid brought— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 6, 2019
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Anthony Davis Trade
I’ll try to keep this one relatively simple.
Boston Receives: Anthony Davis
Indiana Receives: Gordon Hayward, Draft Pick (LA Clippers 2019 1st?)
New Orleans Receives: Jayson Tatum, Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento 2019 1st, Memphis 2020 1st
This one does not work now, and the Pacers would need to clear cap space (by renouncing free agents) to make this happen. There’s reason to believe the Celtics would be hesitant to trade Hayward to another Eastern Conference contender. In the end, they swing for the fences to try to keep Kyrie Irving and have a superteam of their own. It’s also on the lower end of total asset costs for the Celtics and does not nuke Boston’s depth.
As for Indiana, there are already concerns Sabonis and Myles Turner are unable to play together in the playoffs. Instead here the Pacers add in hometown hero Gordon Hayward as the second banana to Victor Oladipo and avoids the Sabonis or Turner question.
As for New Orleans, they have a core of Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, and Domantas Sabonis on July 1st with significant salary cap space. The Sacramento Kings pick adds in another lottery pick (Nickeil Alexander-Walker please) right away and a future first round pick in 2020 (top 6 protected) or 2021 (unprotected) from Memphis.
In this scenario, the Pelicans have the following players under contract and over $32 million in cap space.
2019 Pelicans Salaries
|Ja Morant - 2nd Pick||PG||$7,265,800||$7,629,200||$7,992,500|
|Nickeil Alexander-Walker - 14th Pick||SG/SF||$2,878,400||$3,022,200||$3,166,200|
So, who should the Pelicans dedicate all that cap space to?
Free Agent Target - Tobias Harris
Just throw as much as you need to at Tobias Harris. His maximum is $32.7 million. He’s played 76, 82, 80, and 82 games in his last four seasons. Harris averaged near 20 points a night while shooting over 40% behind the arc over the last two seasons and he’s about to turn 27 years old. Committing to four years takes him through his expected prime. He slots in right away into the power forward slot, spaces the floor, and doesn’t need offense run for him to impact play.
Preston Ellis wrote about Harris as a potential target yesterday should the Pelicans retain Anthony Davis. I say a Pelicans team with Holiday, Tatum, and Sabonis is also enticing to an NBA free agent with David Griffin and Aaron Nelson standing in the background. With any remaining cap space or the room exception, see if Elfrid Payton would like to come back as a reserve behind Ja Morant.
The starting lineup on opening night would be Ja Morant, Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum, Tobias Harris, and Domantas Sabonis. Frank Jackson, E’Twaun Moore, Kenrich Williams, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Christian Wood, and Jahlil Okafor are available off the bench.
Solomon Hill’s expiring contract remains as a potential ticket to a mid-season upgrade, should one become available. There’s still room to add young talent with the Pelicans retaining all of their future first round picks, the Memphis first round pick in 2020 or 2021, and the abundance of future second round picks obtained in the Nikola Mirotic trade.
Sign me up.