Q-Pon Coupon Trade Candidates for the Pelicans

Published: July 6, 2018

Last week, I wrote about the Pelicans’ $3.85 million trade exception obtained via sending Quincy Pondexter to the Bulls last summer in a move to clear salary. In it, I mentioned that the team would likely only use it if Boogie ended up elsewhere and the Pelicans didn’t sign-and-trade him for a player (or players) with similar salary.

Well, here we are.

One Julius Randle non-taxpayer MLE signing and one Elfrid Payton bi-annual exception signing later, the Pelicans are suddenly left with minimum contracts as their only remaining resources to upgrade the roster via free agency. Don’t get me wrong; given the exodus of Rondo and Cousins, both of these are strong and necessary additions. But the impact of these signings is that the Pelicans have to get very creative in order to fill out the rest of the roster. As a result, that Pondexter trade exception becomes an essential tool to do so.

Now, the important question – who should the Pelicans be targeting with that exception?

To figure out the answer to this question, the best place to start is to break it down into three unique categories: Restricted Free Agents, Salary Dumps, and Underpaid Assets.

  1. Restricted Free Agents: Players who are likely feeling the squeeze of the overall lack of cap space throughout the league, and as a result, the Pelicans may be able to bring them in via sign-and-trade on a salary that fits. Such players could only be acquired if their current team is willing to facilitate the trade, and as such, some small compensation may be required from the Pelicans to make it happen. (Note: players who are obtained through a sign-and-trade transaction must receive a contract of at least three years in length, but only the first year has to be fully guaranteed.)
  2. Salary Dumps: Players whose salary fits into the trade exception on teams that may be willing to give them away for close to nothing. This decision could be a result of salary cap concerns or simply a franchise moving in a different direction.
  3. Assets: Players who the Pelicans would not be able to simply take into their trade exception and walk away. Another asset or two would be required to bring in these players.

Below, I have identified a few players who fall into each of these three categories, along with some links to other NBA blogs/websites that provide a little more detail on them in case you are less familiar with what they bring to the table.

Restricted Free Agents

David Nwaba – 6’4″ guard/wing for the Bulls with an impressive 7 foot wingspan. Nwaba isn’t as good of a shooter as some of the other options discussed here, but he is improving in that regard and does a bunch of other things well (high motor, defense, rebounding). Per Mike Scotto of The Athletic, the Bulls’ negotiations with Nwaba are “at a stalemate” and they are listening to sign-and-trade offers as a result. Read more about Nwaba over on Blog a Bull.

Patrick McCaw – Even if the Pelicans were able to work out a deal with McCaw in restricted free agency, there’s no guarantee that the Warriors would be inclined to facilitate a trade to get him to NOLA. The deal would have to start at just under $4M to fit into the trade exception, and the Warriors could decide to match that, as the only cost to them would be a roster spot and luxury tax dollars. But if they end up with their pick of players who want to Boogie on board (see what I did there?) for a discount in order to add “win a ring” to their career checklist, then maybe the Pels could steal him away.

Bryn Forbes – Given the Spurs’ depth at shooting guard – especially if Ginobili decides to play another season by opting into his 2018-19 option – Forbes could be very much attainable for the Pelicans. On more than one occasion, Popovich has helped his departing players (of the non-superstar variety) get into the best possible situations for them, so it’s not out of the question to assume that the Spurs may agree to sign and trade him to New Orleans if it’s Forbes’ best or most lucrative opportunity.

Tyrone Wallace – A combo guard whose NBA career began on a two-way contract, Wallace is a name to watch, if for no other reason than to hear Joel Meyers say his name regularly. He isn’t a good shooter, but has good size, can guard multiple positions, and can make an impact both with and without the ball on offense. Furthermore, the Clippers have a great deal of rotation guards on the roster, so they may be comfortable letting him walk depending on the offer. Richard Flom has a good write-up on Wallace here, though he argues that the Clippers would be well-served to match most reasonable offers for him.

Honorable Mention – Yogi Ferrell, Rodney Hood (note: there is a good chance that these players either receive more than the Pels’ available trade exception or that they would be happy to pay them that low amount to keep them)

Salary Dumps

Jodie Meeks – Sharp-shooting 2-guard who is suspended for the first quarter of the 2018-19 season. Meeks was a rotation player for the Wizards last season, but given their upcoming luxury tax concerns, it is very possible that he could be acquired basically for free, and maybe even get a 2nd round pick in the process for taking him off of their books. Here is a review of Meeks’ most recent season on Bullets Forever.

JJ Barea – Veteran point guard for the Mavericks with a decent 3-point stroke. If the Mavs end up keeping Farrell to accompany their two most recent lottery picks (Smith Jr. & Doncic), Barea may be a player who they would consider unloading. While they may not give him away, the price probably wouldn’t be significant. Here is Mavs Moneyball reviewing Barea’s 2017-18 season.

Juancho Hernangomez – A stretch 4 (36.8% on his 163 3-point attempts in his NBA career thus far) who had a promising rookie season in Denver, but took a step back within the Nuggets’ deep front court rotation in 2017-18. Here’s Adam Mares, one of my favorite NBA writers, talking about Hernangomez and his fit in Denver.

Troy Daniels – Come on. After seeing me write about him at length last summer in reference to the Pelicans’ (since expired) Buddy Hield trade exception, you didn’t actually think I was going to omit him this time around, did you?

Honorable Mention – Jerian Grant, Ekpe Udoh


Tomas Satoransky – One of two Wizards players in this section, Satoransky is a favorite among the Pelicans community, as his size and skill set does fit in quite nicely with what the Pelicans still need at this point. A versatile guard/wing, he filled in at point guard last season while Wall was sidelined, and his team didn’t miss a beat. The Wizards wouldn’t part with him unless they got something valuable in return, but they may not be able to afford the salary for his next contract given all of their other long-term commitments.

Kelly Oubre – You can pretty much copy and paste the Satoransky section down here, except for the point guard comment. Valuable player on a very affordable contract, but he will be a restricted free agent next summer, so his salary will likely jump.

Tyus Jones – Similar to Satoransky, Jones filled in admirably for Timberwolves starting PG Jeff Teague while he was injured, but in typical Thibs fashion, received sparse playing time off the bench. Furthermore, the Wolves are re-signing Derrick Rose, so there are lingering questions about what Jones’ role will be next season. He wouldn’t come for free, but he may be more attainable than his age and talent level may suggest.

Stanley Johnson – Of all players mentioned in this column, none of them fit more perfectly into the Pondexter trade exception than Johnson, who makes just $13,529 less than the maximum allowable amount. The 8th overall pick in the 2015 draft hasn’t shown a ton of growth in his 3-year NBA career with the Pistons, but there are worse options for a 1-year trial run in advance of his restricted free agency next summer. Like Jones, his current team would not just give him away, but he could come for a fairly reasonable price if the Pelicans are interested.

Honorable Mention: Reggie Bullock, Justise Winslow


These players range from barely exciting to legitimate impact players, but the associated acquisition costs also scale accordingly. How the Pelicans plan to navigate this cost/benefit curve remains to be seen, but hopefully, they can use this trade exception to improve the team in some way before it expires on September 1st.

Have an opinion about who the Pelicans should target? Let us know in the comments section or on twitter!

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