The New Orleans Pelicans announced a couple of roster moves today, waiving two-way player Will Magnay while agreeing on a two-way contract with 30-year-old journeyman James Nunnally.
According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, the Pelicans fulfilled a desire to increase the wing depth on the roster. With a slew of big men ahead of him in the rotation, Magnay was deemed the most expendable and thus the logical choice for replacement.
Per Pelicans PR:
Nunnally (6-7, 208) most recently played for the February 2021 USA Basketball Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team. He played in both games during the AmeriCup Qualifying February 2021 window, averaging 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 23.0 minutes per game.
Nunnally has played internationally in Greece, Puerto Rico, Spain, Israel, Italy, Turkey and China. Throughout his international career, Nunnally has shot better than 45% on more than 500 3-point attempts.
In 2019-20, he played for Fenerbahçe (Turkey) and the Shanghai Sharks (China). He helped Fenerbahçe to back-to-back EuroLeague Final Four appearances in 2016-17 and 2017-18, including winning the championship in 2017. Nunnally earned Italian League MVP honors following the 2015-16 season after averaging 18.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 40 games for Sidigas Avellino.
Undrafted in 2012 after his senior season at UC Santa Barbara, Nunnally has appeared in 28 career NBA games with Atlanta, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Houston.
It is important to note that New Orleans isn’t done making moves. Isaiah Thomas’ 10-day contract is expiring soon so the Pelicans will need to cross the bridge of meeting the league’s requirement of 14 players on the regular roster.
The Pelicans could fulfill this obligation when it comes due by signing Thomas to a second 10-day contract, signing a different player to a 10-day contract or converting one of the two-way contracts to a regular NBA contract.
It is probable that New Orleans’ proximity to the luxury tax line will dictate their ensuing moves. According to Spotrac.com, the Pelicans sit about $253K away from the tax when counting all the salaries on the roster and the likely incentives of Steven Adams (trade kicker) and James Johnson (1,000 minutes played bonus).
It’ll be a balancing act on the books to the finish line for New Orleans and here’s one potential scenario posited by Keith Smith.
Converting/signing Marshall could get a little messy for New Orleans with luxury tax.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) April 12, 2021
It may be Magnay goes for now, Marshall is converted when NO can avoid the tax and then Magnay is maybe brought back to finish the season.
Magnay hasn't played much at all this year for NO.
While there’s no avenue to playing time for Magnay currently, it makes some sense for New Orleans to bring him back when there might no longer be a tax penalty in signing Naji Marshall to a regular NBA contract.
The 22-year-old from Australia is an athletic big man who has shown some range. In ten games in the G League, the 6’10 Magnay averaged 9.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 30.0% from 3-point range in about 22 minutes per contest.
In my opinion, Magnay would make for a great candidate to evaluate further for New Orleans during the next summer league slate of games.