New Orleans Pelicans Free Agency and Rumors Thread

Published: June 30, 2014

July 16th

Jason Smith has reportedly signed a 1 year 3.3 million dollar deal to join the Knicks. At the time of his departure, Smith was the longest tenured Pelicans player, appearing in 199 games over the past four season. His absence leaves Eric Gordon as the Pelicans player who has been on the roster the longest. Smith was seemingly the face of the franchise for much of the past two years, and he will be missed.


July 8th, 1:30 PM

A little interesting nugget came out of today’s Summer League practice, which was opened to the media for the first time.


As Fletcher astutely notes, Luke’s absence can potentially mean that a trade is coming. If you remember, Babbitt was with the team, working out, just a few weeks ago. But now, even though he is on the Summer League roster, he was nowhere to be found today. Why is this important? Well, like Melvin Ely, Babbitt has a non-guaranteed contract, which means that the Pelicans can trade him to make a deal work cap wise, but then the other team can just cut him without having to pay him anything or without him going on their books.

Him not being there makes a trade more likely in my opinion, because if the plan was just to decline the team option, we could have signed him right back up for the minimum, and actually given him a raise in doing so. Remember when we had to release Lance Thomas during summer league last year, then we picked him right back up? Could have done the same thing with Babbitt. However, if you trade a player, you can’t sign them again until the following year. So this is why I think it is far more likely that he is part of a trade. Also, the fact that Jeff Withey was there is an indicator as well, because if the Pels were just planning on waiving all holds and non guaranteed contracts, Withey would likely have to go as well.

So, how would it work? Well, Babbitt and Ely count for about $2.3 million (again, non-guaranteed) meaning that the Pelicans would have to attach about $3.3 million to facilitate a trade that would fall within the CBA’s 150% + 100K rule. If they can, say, work on a trade that sends Rivers and Ajinca elsewhere and Babbitt and Ely to Houston, they would preserve Bird Rights on all their players and keep their MLE and BAE. They could also use Bird Rights on their own free agents and do the same thing (which is the ideal scenario). For example, they can send Roberts and Smith to Detroit, and as long as their first year salary is $3.3 mil or more combined, they keep Bird Rights on everyone else and their MLE, BAE, etc.

A final option could be to work out a sign and trade with Morrow using cap room, as he seems to be the Pelicans free agent garnering the most interest. In this scenario, they would have to renounce Bird Rights to everyone and lose their MLE, but they keep Rivers and Ajinca, while also getting the room exception ($2.8 million) to go after a small forward. Still several options here for Dell, but reading the tea leaves, I would expect a trade that facilitates this Asik deal. The only question is whether it will involve Rivers or one of our own free agents.



July 3rd, 9:30 AM

Bourbon Street Shots has learned that Dell Demps has explored some options that will allow him to complete the trade for Omer Asik while keeping his core in place. Immediately after the Asik trade was announced, I wrote this piece about how Dell would have to trade either Gordon, Rivers, or Anderson to make the deal work financially, but Dell might be trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat by doing the deal another way. It could happen if he does the following:

1. Have Houston take the Pelicans non-guaranteed contracts (Ely, Babbitt, and Withey) – this might already be an agreed upon part of the trade. The Rockets could use these as an asset or just release them to create cap room.

2. Sign and trade one of our own free agents to a third team. For the deal to work cap wise, the Pelicans would have to send out a player whose salary starts at $2.4 million or more next year (and if it is $3.2 million, they can keep Withey, $3.4 million for Babbitt)

So, we have heard that the Grizzlies might have some interest in Roberts, the Mavericks might have some interest in Aminu, and several teams have interest in Morrow. Now, Aminu and Roberts (and even Smith) can be signed and traded using Bird Rights, meaning that we can keep our MLE. Morrow, however, would likely have to be signed using part or all of our MLE because we do not have Bird Rights on him. (Edit: To do a S&T with Morrow, the Pels would have to sign him into cap room, which would make them lose their MLE, but would allow the to use the Room Exception) Would it be worth losing our MLE to keep Rivers and Withey? Before you answer yes, remember that we still desperately need a SF. A couple of other small things to keep in mind here – Both parties (the other team and our free agent) have to agree to the deal and that makes this option more difficult than upon first glance.

First of all, you have to give out either 3 or 4 year contracts to guys that you sign and trade. You can’t sign and trade Smith on a 1 year deal, for instance.  Now, it can be a three year deal with only the first year guaranteed, but that is where the player might object. And the other tough thing with going this route is: Why would that third team help us out? They aren’t going to just do us a favor for nothing. And Dell doesn’t have picks to sweeten the deal. But maybe that cash from Houston can be rerouted. That’s an idea. Also, you could see teams without cap room but with trade exceptions being interested in this route.

There are several teams that can absorb our players using a trade exception, so be on the lookout for that. Morrow seems the most likely candidate here, though as I said before, that would cause us to lose our MLE. The Pelicans would be stacked in the front court and the backcourt, but would have a gaping hole at SF, with only the biannual and Bird Rights to Aminu, Smith, and Roberts left to fix it. It is an interesting option for Dell though nonetheless. __________________________________________________________________________ Update July 2nd, 7:30 PM    

We have heard two names now: Jameer Nelson and Troy Daniels. The thing that they have in common is that they are guards who are best suited off the bench that can shoot. Are they possible replacements for Morrow or Rivers? Stay tuned.


Update July 1st, 9:30 PM

  These tweets are in reference to the tweets Alex Kennedy sent out earlier today. Let me tell you how this happens. A desperate reporter with little to no track record (Kennedy) is so desperate to break something that he believes everything he hears and tweets it a thousand times. Other teams give him this info, knowing he will put it out, to try to make the Pels seem desperate. The Pels then call someone like Kyler, pissed – see this tweet – and tell him the truth. So, long story short, expect Rivers or Gordon. Same place we were days ago. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Update July 1st, 7:00 PM


After seeing what Jodie Meeks got on the open market (3 yrs/ $19.5), the Pelicans might be assuming that Anthony Morrow is gone. If gone, Daniels could be a nice shooter at a fraction of the price.


Update, July 1st 9:09 AM

A front office source with another team has told me that the Lakers are shopping Steve Nash hard and are willing to take back deals with more than 1 year remaining. Currently, Steve Nash has 1 year and $9.7 remaining on his deal. So, could the Lakers look towards New Orleans? Eric Gordon is working out in LA, loves the city, and would be a decent fit next to Kobe if healthy. From the Pelicans side, this trade would help them facilitate the Asik deal and/or could really help them get into either this free agent market or next year’s. Let’s take a look at what some options would be if a Nash for Gordon trade gets done.

Option 1: Make it a three-teamer with Houston where we also get Asik and the Rockets get the pick. This would allow us to keep all our Bird Rights, MLE, BAE, etc. Then, hold onto Nash as an expiring trade chip or just let him expire and go into the 2015 Free Agent class with the Core Four, Asik, and 15-20 mil in cap room.


Option 2: Add Ely, Ajinca, and Babbitt to the deal and you get a big enough trade exception to just absorb Asik’s deal with a trade exception. This puts you right back where you started this summer with all your Bird Rights and th option to use cap room or your MLE.


Option 3: Do Gordon for Nash and have another trade with Rivers that lets you make the Asik deal using the 150% rule (would have to add Ely, Babbitt, etc.). Then, you work on a buyout with Nash and stretch him. If you do this, you can instantly get to about $18 mil under the cap right away. Now you go after Parsons or Hayward or Ariza or Deng. Heck, make a pitch to Lebron! Okay, let’s slow down a bit, but you get my point. You can even just sit there and wait on teams to dump salaries to create more space for those big guys or to avoid the lux tax.

The Core 4 and Asik plus $18 mil to spend – not bad, huh?


Update, July 1st 8:00 AM

The first night of Free Agency has passed and nothing to report on the Pelicans front. Alex Kennedy, who is never right about the Pelicans, tweeted about Andray Blatche telling people that he thinks he can end up in New Orleans, while a Boston Celtics fan, who is a web designer and runs a little blog, tweeted about the Celtics being interested in Rivers. Due to the desire to just want to consume any bit of information, this got some fans into a frenzy, but there is nothing to see here yet. If Woj or Stein reports something, then we should listen (and discuss), but for right now all is quiet.



Free Agency starts tonight, and just as we did last year, we will keep you up to date on all the latest rumors and rumblings and have instant analysis once anything breaks.

To hold you over, here is a look at the trades that are most likely to happen over the next few days. And you can listen to the podcast as well if you haven’t already.

What are you hoping for over these next few days and what do you think will actually happen?


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