After Math

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Published: July 3, 2018

We’ll have the considered reactions from the guys later today, but, for now, here’s the New Orleans Pelicans’ cap situation and how it will affect the other 363 days of their cap year.

Overall Situation

The Pelicans are now over the cap, hard capped, under the tax, and that should not change.

They have the minimum exception and trades to work with. There is not enough money left in the bi-annual exception left to sign anyone to a minimum deal, so it’s useless. The trades can involve current players, Ian Clark, Charles Cooke, Jordan Crawford, picks, draft rights, trade exceptions, and cash. With thirteen players under contract now (or committed to be), they also have the option to clear roster spots by ditching some non-guaranteed salary to get the players they want, complete transactions in the end.

Next season, the Pelicans are slated to be a room team at this point, or a least they could be. If so, they would have lost the bi-annual exception anyway, so using it this season for Payton, which comes with losing it next season (hence, the name), is not a net loss. Beyond that, it’s just Jrue with a single player option year, Davis with a guaranteed year following by his option.

The above ignores various holds and non-compulsory items along with the roster charge, other arcane CBA creatures.

Look for the Pelicans not to add major salary beyond a 2-year time frame unless it is for a quality or movable player.

Assorted Details

  • Hard Cap: The hard cap will likely not affect the Pelicans this offseason, saving the biggest, most lopsided imaginable, but legal, trades or multiple trades, each legally lopsided. The Pelicans are hardcapped, and, again, they have incentives that make it closer than it appears. Their apparent salary will top out around the tax line during the season for this reason. After the season, the salary can increase or decrease based on the actual incentives earned. It’s that top potential figure that factors into the hard cap, even once an incentive is impossible to meet that season.
  • Tax: The tax will likely not affect the Pelicans, this offseason. See above. The incentives calculation applies to the tax calculation, too. They can appear to be over, then go under, or the other way around, depending on how the incentives fall.
  • Minimum Exception: This is one way the Pelicans have to add salary and is available for all teams at all times, can be used as many times as they like, as long as everything else is legal. You can give 1-year or 2-year deals, but players will be more reluctant than normal to sign a 2-year deal. This is because the minimum salary for the second season locks in when the deal is signed. Cap changes do not affect it. With a bigger than normal cap increase projected next season, players stepping down into the minimum will be even less likely to take it.

    There are three exceptions to this minimum exception: Ian Clark, Charles Cooke, and Jordan Crawford. Them and only them. Each of the three C’s has some form of Bird Rights. Clark and Cooke each have Non-Bird Rights. Clark and Cooke are both Non-Bird free agents. They can all sign (or be signed-and-traded) for up to four seasons. Cooke can be given a first year salary between $1,349,383 and $1,619,259.6, Clark between $1,757,429 and $2,108,914.8. Crawford is an Early Bird free agent. His salary range is from $1,893,447 to $8,838,000. There are complications with Crawford, detailed here.

  • Typical Trades: The Pelicans will likely make a trade this season for one reason or another. No players on the roster have any trade veto power, save new signings not being trade eligible until December 15, Carr 30 days after he’s signed (if he signs). There are no trade kickers for a player that’s being traded. They have a range of salaries and value players available. With the current players under contract, they will be hard pressed to put together the kind of trade to put them near the tax. To add $10m in salary, they would need to send out something like $50m (due to the 125% rule for large trades to do so in a single trade. They could do so with two smaller trades with outgoing salaries starting a little over $6m. This is more likely, but rules about aggregation of salary and the current roster construction are barriers.

    Do not discount the potential to bring in a versatile, triple-threat, defending wing via trade.

  • Atypical Trades: The Pelicans may take advantage of some atypical trades. The Pelicans have a few trade exceptions laying around that can bring back: $3,953,931, $2,400,000, $1,571,382, $1,529,818. They expire over the season, with the earliest being the most valuable (September 1). They can not be combined. The Pelicans can use picks, cash, and draft rights (Carr and one other player) to complete these deals. Also, since the Pelicans have Crawford’s Early Bird Rights, he can be used in a sign-and-trade to bring back a player or enhance a deal with greater effect than Cooke or Clark, but they could be used to lesser effect. Crawford’s details, again, are here while Cooke and Clark can bring back up to $2,933,704.3 and $3,790,600.9, respectively. Sign-and-trades can be aggregated, as well. Moves like this can move the salary figure a good bit without losing a major player, which may be of considerable interest. The biggest of these assets is the Pondexter exception, which Mason has discussed. It expires September 1. The sign-and-trades go away at the start of the season. The other exceptions expire a little before the deadline.
  • Salary Dump: The Pelicans can partake in what will potentially be a decent little salary dump market. They can use the above to try to get a little asset or a shinier one as teams look to get out of the tax. Similarly for completing complex trades. The players acquired are likely not needle-movers here, but anything is possible. What is more likely is getting a project or a player with some cap implications next season. For instance, a player like Crawford that can be used in trades due to Bird or Early Bird rights. The Pelicans can keep Okafor or Liggins to create their own such chips, or waive them at some point. Miller and Diallo will likely end up fully guaranteed.

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