The Times, They Are A-Changin’

By:
Published: May 5, 2013
escher-metamorphosis-a[1]

Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

— Bob Dylan, The Times, They Are A-Changin’

News

In players news, the NCAA investigation into Lance Thomas’ troubles with a jeweler found no evidence of wrong-doing, such as inappropriate benefits. The issue between Thomas and the jeweler was settled in September.

The NBA’s Summer League will be held in Las Vegas from July 12 – 22 and will feature a single elimination tournament with a champion crowned after 5 preliminary games. The Pelicans will be there with a yet-to-be-determined roster that will likely include any draftees.

The bigger news come from the team’s conference call earlier this week. The first New Orleans Pelicans Fan Conference Call was a success with Monty Williams, Dell Demps, and Dennis Lauscha answering questions quite openly.

The highlights are that the team is looking for

Veterans
Speed
Naming Rights

and not looking for

a D-League team

Around the Site

The Season In Review player review conclude:

Al-Farouq Aminu
Roger Mason
Eric Gordon
Greivis Vasquez
Darius Miller
Xavier Henry
Lance Thomas

On In the NO this week, Gerry V discusses scouting, draft prospects, Davis, Rivers, and Jason Collins.

We also had some things to say about Jason Collins’ decision to become known as the America’s first openly homosexual professional athlete in a major team sport.

Also, Mike’s Missing Piece this week focus on the piece that left: Chris Paul. He details why the point guard may want to return to New Orleans.

`Voices’ of the People

If only he played every night with hustle and intensity. I saw him at times and he had some really bright moments. But for most of the season, it was disappointing. If we can get rid of him and get value-awesome. But if we can get him to come back and buy into the system, even better.
I think Gerry V said on a podcast a few months back that Gordon could really thrive if he was with a solid veteran who was a great leader. In other words, he could be a good Robin but maybe not a good Batman. His story will no doubt be a hot topic going forward.

Jared

I have the same great feeling that I had last year about our team. Great things are in our future and kudos to the Benson’s and all of the Pelicans staff. I think we will be able to attract veteran free agents with the quality of our organization and the direction of our team. Throughout the season, our team has shown that they are prepared and play hard. Hopefully, for some, that will enough to get them in here and become the pillars along with Davis, Rivers, Gordon and Anderson.

LaNative

I want to drink from the Kool-Aid … I do … and this would be GREAT and instantly catapult us into Western Conference contention, but I’m too cynical about NBA players to think CP3 will make a decision that is remotely based upon competitive instincts. I worry he’ll stay in LA – in the limelight – just because it is LA and is not Louisiana. I wish he was old-school like I once thought he was, but I’ve lost hope.

It sure would be nice to get that hope back, though.

andregurov

42 Sense

Sometimes when large, exciting storylines being to swirl, important details can be lost in the shuffle.

This offseason was set to be huge with two major free agents in Dwight Howard and Chris Paul and the balance of the recent CBA taking effect, and even larger for the New Orleans Pelicans given their cap space and contracted talent.

The injury to Kobe Bryant, looming clear books, recent struggles, and change of ownership of the Lakers along with the regression of the Clippers heightens things.

The fact that those franchise hold the two key free agents mentioned above spices things up even more.

That’s all well and good, but what does this have to do with the Pelicans?

Mike has already addressed why Chris Paul may want to join the Pelicans. That leaves what other teams will have to let go in order to acquire Paul, Dwight, or both.

Today, we focus on the Atlanta Hawks. I, personally, think that Atlanta’s ownership is so bad that they will not be able to attract top talent (history supports this, as well), but we’ll look at what it would take.

Atlanta’s books get relatively clean starting this offseason, which brings up the idea that they can land both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. They have $18,583,800 committed to Center Al Horford ($12m in each of the next 3 seasons), Shooting Guard Lou Williams ($5.225m this season with a $0.225m raise the following season), to Shooting Guard John Jenkins ($1,258,800 this season with options going forward), and $100,000 to Center Jeremy Tyler who was waived with partially guaranteed contract for 2013-2014.

The other major pieces of data are the salaries that Paul and Howard can command and the projected salary cap, which is expected to be around $60m. Under normal circumstances, their 8 and 9 years of experience in the NBA would set their max salary at 30% of the salary cap, or around $18m, but unless the cap is rises about twice as much as projected, then their max salaries will be 105% of their previous salaries. This means that Chris Paul can command a $18,668,431 salary and Dwight Howard $20,513,178 for Dwight Howard, or a total of $39,109,609.

A quick calculation involving these salaries alone indicates that Atlanta could sign both players outright, but the CBA complicates matters. First, Atlanta would have to release their rights to a number of key players to do this, including Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Teague, and Ivan Johnson, so that their cap holds actually free up the cap space to allow for the signing of free agents. All are assets they would likely be unable to retain if the free agent deal worked out. Atlanta may not care about that, but such is the case. Second, the Hawks have two first round picks this year, their own and one from Houston, which are slotted at 17 and 18. This leaves a $2,629,000 total cap hold that can only be commuted by trading the picks away, or partially so by trading one. Third, there is roster charge that chew up more cap space to the tune of a rookie minimum salary for each roster spot not accounted for signed player or cap hold or some type. Given the 5 slots accounted for (3 guarantees, 2 first round draft picks (seconds don’t count)), they have 7 roster charges at $490,180 for a total of $3,431,260. This leaves the Hawks $3,825,669 shy of offering both the maximum salary. If each leaves around $2m on the table, this will cost them about $8m over the life of the deal, each. The Heat key free agents did this, so such a move is not unprecedented.

So, following this route, the Hawks have Chris Paul and Dwight Howard at under their maximum salaries, two first round draft picks, Al Horford, Lou Williams, and John Jenkins. They would be left with only the ability to make trades, the minimum salary exception, and the room exception worth $2.652m next season with which to build. They have all draft picks going forward. This roster would almost certainly require Horford playing at power forward until more roster moves could be made. This is a formidable team, but perhaps not the best option for Chris and Dwight, with the trading of draft picks and Horford only clear mechanisms for improvement.

What other alternatives are there to this brute force method?

The Hawks could try to acquire one or both of the players in sign-and-trades, using their first round draft picks, 3 guaranteed contracts, and players whose rights they have. The Lakers may end up over the tax apron, meaning they would have to receive players already under contract, so such a deal would center around Horford (pun intended). The are possibilities here, as well, since unloading Horford and Williams would allow them to try to land Paul, Howard, and Smith. This would almost certainly require cooperation from the Lakers, possibly the Clippers, and it’s not clear that this can be leveraged. Not only would all of the players have to be on-board, but at least one team would have to be convinced that that these are the best options for them and that their free agents are willing to walk somewhere, not necessarily to Atlanta. Going back to the Heat’s assembling of talent, they had the cap room straight away to sign all 3 free agents to deals the players convinced the teams they would find acceptable, so the teams agreed to the trades and received some first round draft picks for their trouble. If they Hawks can manage to acquire both Paul and Howard in trade rather than using cap space, they can retain the rights to the free agents, allowing the team to grow using Bird Rights, more trades, and the Mid-Level Exception. This will, again, require both the Clippers and Lakers at a minimum to cooperate with this plan.

Other teams could get involved to clear space from Hawks, like when Minnesota took Beasley off of the Heats’ hot hands when they signed James, Bosh, and Wade. Williams may be a desirable piece for many teams, and losing his salary would allow the Hawks to sign Howard and Paul to their maximum salaries. Whether this would actually be a plus or minus for the free agents remains to be seen.

What about the Pelicans? In nearly all of these cases, Teague becomes available. All reports are that Atlanta will make Teague a restricted free agent by extending a $3,469,568 qualifying offer to him, but his cap hold will be $6,082,692, far more than Lou Williams’ salary if they manage to dump it. So, unless they can work out all of the trades, Teague will almost certainly have to be cut loose to make it work, since that cap hold can not be renounced and simultaneously keep him restricted. In another case, the Hawks could dump him to a team for a future pick to avoid losing him for nothing, but that is a more delicate situation. Other teams would likely be competing for Teague’s services, but the Hawks’ control over him would no longer be an issue.

So, the Hawks success, or even attempt at success, could lead to an opportunity for the Pelicans, and the Hawks’ approach to Teague could give insight into their appraisal of their success in landing top free agents. To this point, reports are that the Hawks intend to make Teague a restricted free agent, but will wait a while longer to maintain flexibility.

If any ownership group can totally Jets their situation, besides that of the Jets, it’s the Atlanta Spirit, the owners of the Hawks. Denny Ferry could, admittedly, mitigate some of their many problems.

2 comments
Jared
Jared

It would be kind of nice if, in a few seasons, we could get a D-League team. Baton Rouge would be a good spot for them. It would just be a cool thing to get three or four years down the road when we're winning all those titles...

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

The time-frame seems longer unless something changes, such as a rash of other teams wholly owning and operating their teams. Right now, there are 12 of 30 teams that do this.