2018 NBA Free Agency, Roundtable 2

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Published: July 1, 2018

What thoughts do you want to share about Free Agency so far?

Ryan Hebert (@RyanHebert89): With the Pelicans being in a Demarcus Cousins led limbo, seeing them tied to almost every low-tier big man is slightly hilarious. Other than that, I hope this Cousins saga comes to a close soon because refreshing my twitter app every 5 minutes gets exhausting. The Lakers meeting with Rockets restricted free agent Clint Capela before meeting with Cousins is interesting, hopefully they sign him to a large offer sheet and tie themselves up for a few days, though the Rockets will match. According to Larry Coon, the Lakers maintaining a max spot for Lebron James, then they can offer Cousins around 23 million dollars. This is just me speculating but I am guessing the Pelicans offer started somewhere around there and is being worked upwards. Wing targets are coming off the board, thought this is not a particularly strong wing class it will be interesting to see who the Pelicans target or if they address this later in free agency from trade.

Rick Stone (@RickStoneNBA): Nothing happening early on for the Pelicans should not be a surprise for anyone that’s kept up with the Dell Demps’ strategy. Sure, he did give AD and Asik those massive deals on Day One a few years back, but this is a different story. New Orleans’ strategy with Boogie will be one that takes time and not one that immediately happens. The other pieces will take a while to fall, as Demps will try to save money on players that can be a key cog to the team. The feeling is also that a lot of the big spenders in the NBA are still awaiting the news on Kawhi now that LeBron is going to LA, so this process could take some more time into free agency. Also, every guy the Pelicans seem to be talking to is to leverage their negotiations with Boogie, since everyone they’ve been linked to is a center. Once that gets solved, expect New Orleans to start to talk to wings and possibly backup guards.

Jesse Brooks (@jessecbrooks): It’s a poker game and we’re in the wild, wild west. We’re waiting to see who folds first. DeMarcus Cousins has meetings with the Pelicans and Lakers. However, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James have expressed interest in the Lakers. We likely don’t know anything going on with Boogie until both of those trains leave the station. All I can gather at the moment is that both the Pelicans and Lakers are in a bit of a leverage battle when approaching Boogie. Lakers schedule a meeting with RFA Clint Capela and Pelicans “express interest” in basically every free agent big man name in the book. It’s a House of Cards, and it’s likely other factors have to fall first.

It kind of looks like so much depends on how Kawhi and Coach Pop handle this potential trade thing. Kawhi wants to strongarm his way to LA, but he does not control his own destiny, the Spurs do. While the Lakers have assets, I still kind of see it as hard to believe the Spurs help out a Western power. There’s a lot of Philly talk. I’m holding on to hope Spurs give LA the bird by shipping Kawhi out East, LeBron never meets with Magic and Pelicans’ deal to Boogie becomes the best option.

42 (@42phd): With Dallas out of the picture and the Lakers reportedly in the picture, the market for Cousins has experienced a net-contraction. The Lakers got LeBron, so I do not see them going for Cousins at all, but that is, of course, up to Mayor-Elect James at this point. I can’t see them offering more than ~$25m total on a 1y deal if they make it that far down their list. Pelinka may also see the Pelicans as future direct competition and wants to put a thumb on the salary scale at no real cost to him, score points with Cousins, players, fans just in case. Their timetable is too short even without James. If they land just Kawhi, I feel the same, just less emphatically.

With max money off the table the natural nails in the market go from ~$18m (prior salary . . . so injury does no harm, no foul in raw salary terms), ~$22m from the sign-and-trade-market (roughly, and it’s complicated), ~$25m from the free agency market, set by non-bird-focused deals, and ~$30m (max) to just the first three of those. I’d pegged the market at ~$25m since that nail is close to the midpoint, pretty reasonable. Now I see it perhaps down a peg, more like ~$22m. Then, if LA goes away (or never comes), then it’s down to $18m. This can all be boosted up a notch or two with incentives. Deal length, options can affect it, too. As mentioned above and by me elsewhere: if you wait for the market, you are waiting on its timeline, not yours.

Even if the Pelicans want to move forward without Cousins, the best move it to sign him to a contract tied to the market, then try to further shine up his health and personality concerns. Once the value is increased . . . and maybe you find a different kind of magic with the new Cousins in the mix . . . you trade him then. This way you can help maintain your salary war chest and your options long-term, not just right now on the difference between a TMLE player and a NMLE player.

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