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Pelicans sign McCollum to extension, set roster at 20 players ahead of training camp

New Orleans signs John Butler and Zylan Cheatham, waives Izaiah Brockington

2022 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

There was a whirlwind of activity on the Saturday before media day and the start of training camp by the New Orleans Pelicans.

CJ McCollum agreed to a two-year, $64 million extension with the Pelicans, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

McCollum is now under contract for the next four years and a total of $133 million.

While an average of $32 million a year for McCollum in his age 33 and 34 seasons may be worrisome at first glance, realize that it's far below what others will be earning in three years.

In my opinion, the value is good. Additionally, one has to believe McCollum’s game will age quite nicely. He’s never leaned heavily on athleticism but rather a bevy of skills and intelligence. It’s not hard to envision him playing at a high level for at least another 5-6 years.

With McCollum landing his expected extension, all eyes now turn to Larry Nance Jr., who many felt would also garner a new deal with the Pelicans this summer.

The front office also announced the signings of John Butler and Zylan Cheatham, while waiving Izaiah Brockington.

Butler captivated many Pelicans fans during summer league action, especially in the final exhibition. The 7-footer scored 25 points, going a perfect 6-for-6 from the three-point line.

Butler, 7-2, 174, played one collegiate season at Florida State, where he averaged 5.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 31 games. During his rookie campaign, Butler led the Seminoles with 33 three-point shots made as he became the first true freshman in school history to lead Florida State in three-point shots made and three-point field goal shooting percentage (.393). In the 2022 NBA 2K Summer League, Butler appeared in four games (two starts) for the Pelicans, averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 12-of-16 (.750) from the floor and 6-of-9 (.667) from three-point range.

Cheatham spent several years in New Orleans before going to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Steven Adams trade. The Pelicans signed him again last September but waived his Exhibit 10 contract, paving the way for a stint with the Birmingham Squadron.

Cheatham, 6-5, 220, most recently played professionally for the Utah Jazz, appearing in one game. During the 2021-22 NBA season, Cheatham played in four games for New Orleans, averaging 3.0 points, 0.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per contest while shooting .667 from the floor. During the 2022 NBA 2K Summer League, Cheatham played five games with the Milwaukee Bucks posting averages of 6.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.8 steals.

While Cheatham’s signing looks like a smart move to add a familiar veteran face to the Birmingham roster, there’s hope Butler could be developed into an NBA rotational piece. A 7-footer with a nice shooting stroke is a rarity. However, he’ll undoubtedly have to work on other areas, like adding more good weight on his skinny frame, before receiving strong consideration for NBA minutes.

The Brockington waiver is mildly surprisingly considering the Pelicans signed him to a two-way contract 12 days ago.

While this move frees up a two-way slot, the Pelicans currently have 20 players under contract, the maximum allowed during an offseason. Teams don’t have to cut down their rosters to 15 until the day before the start of the regular season.

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