2016 NBA Off Season Preview: New Orleans Pelicans



 New Orleans Pelicans

2015-2016 Record: 30-52
Projected Maximum Cap Space: $22,431,197.00

Players Under Contract for 2016-2017

FC Anthony Davis ($20,947,250)
G Jrue Holiday ($11,000,000)
G Tyreke Evans ($10,203,755)
C Omer Asik ($9,904,494)
C Alexis Ajinca ($4,863,206)
GF Quincy Pondexter ($3,617,978)
F Dante Cunningham ($3,000,000)

Player Options

GF Alonzo Gee ($1,379,400)

Team Options

G Toney Douglas ($1,315,448)
F Luke Babbitt ($1,227,286)

Unrestricted Free Agents

G Eric Gordon
F Ryan Anderson
G Norris Cole
C Kendrick Perkins
GF James Ennis
GF Jordan Hamilton
G Tim Frazier
F Bryce Dejean-Jones


2015-2016 Recap

After making the playoffs in 2014-2015, the Pelicans took a giant step back, and were seemingly out of the race from the beginning. New Orleans chose to replace Monty Williams with Alvin Gentry, and the jury is still out as to whether that was the right move or not. New Orleans defense plummeted, as they were in the bottom five of the entire league. They stood little chance without superstar Anthony Davis, who missed 21 games due to injury.

Players Under Contract

The aforementioned Davis will begin making max money, and he is definitely worthy of the paycheck. Nagging injuries aside, when he is on the court, he is as good as it gets on both ends of the floor. His blend of shooting, rebounding and shot blocking is as good as it gets. It is up to the front office to surround him with a winning formula.

Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans should return as New Orleans back court. Holiday has struggled mightily with injuries since the Pelicans acquired him from Philadelphia a couple of seasons back. Those ailements have sapped him of some of his athleticism, though he still has a chance to be one of the better point guards in the league. Tyreke Evans, on the other hand, had one of his better seasons. He was the main ball handler, and cut down on his turnovers.

Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca make one of the most overpaid and unproductive center duos in the NBA. Asik's contract is unmovable, so he will return. At his best, he can provide rebounding and shot blocking, but he is simply a 15 minute a night guy at this point. Ajinca was never more than that.

Quincy Pondexter was a key reserve that missed the entire 2015-2016 season. With so many free agents departing, he could play a key role in 16-17. Ditto for Dante Cunningham.

Free Agents

The Eric Gordon experiment was a failure, and he will most likely depart as a free agent. So will Ryan Anderson, who never seemed to coexist with Anthony Davis in the Pelicans lineup. Both players should get a decent paycheck elsewhere.

Norris Cole could return, as he had a decent run as Holiday's backup. Kendrick Perkins and James Ennis are bench fodder.

One player to keep an eye on is Bryce Dejean-Jones. New Orleans liked what he brought to the table, and could look to develop him.

Free Agent Targets

New Orleans could have enough money to sign one max free agent. While the flat out superstars will most likely not pick New Orleans, the Pelicans could use Davis as a draw to lure someone like Al Horford to the Big Easy. Horford would be a nice offensive compliment to Davis.

The wise decision might be to sign two or three players. New Orleans has a few very specific needs;

A center to take some of the burden off of Davis. Davis has dealt with nagging injuries thus far during his career. There are not many mid tier centers available. Perhaps they can squeeze some life back into the career of Roy Hibbert.

Another need is wing shooting. Tyreke Evans is not a great shooter, and they will miss Ryan Anderson's floor stretching ability. Luol Deng would be a nice veteran presence to throw on the wing.

Trade Proposal

Pelicans trade C Alexis Ajinca to Clippers for F Paul Pierce and G CJ Wilcox

Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans are probably New Orleans only tradable assets. Davis is not going anywhere, and they will not get equal value back for Evans. So I had to get creative with a small trade.

Ajinca holds value as a solid backup big man on a reasonable contract. He could fetch a couple of cheap shooters. In this scenario, Paul Pierce would probably opt to retire, but CJ Wilcox is a solid shooter who has been buried on the Clippers bench.

NBA Draft

Like the rest of the bad teams, Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram could go a long way towards turning this franchise around. Simmons would give the Pelicans another potential 20 point per game scorer and a marketable player to go along with Anthony Davis. Brandon Ingram would give the Pelicans shooting and additional defense from the wing. Both players would start at small forward from day one.

If New Orleans is forced to pick 6th, they could turn their attention to a big man. Jakob Poeltl would be an ideal compliment to Davis. He needs to get stronger, but is a solid offensive player that can rebound as well.

Diamond Stone would be a darkhorse. He is a beast down low that is still learning the finer points of the game. He would be more of a project, but could start in a year or two.

In Summary

A team with a superstar the caliber of Anthony Davis should not have 30 win seasons. It is up to the front office to build a competent roster around their franchise player. New Orleans has struggled to find an identity and balanced personnel. This roster is Davis, Holiday, Evans and little else. With no young players to develop, it will be up to free agent additions and wise draft picks to supplement a weak roster.

Jonathan Carrano

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