Paying your own, starting with Randle.

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Published: March 3, 2019

There are two ways a team can decide to operate going into the summer: as a cap space team, or as an over-the-cap team with only exceptions at their disposal. How cap space teams allocate their cap room varies depending upon the goals of an organization, and for all intents and purposes the Pelicans will most likely be operating as a cap space team this summer. The following will be with that in mind.

Some teams clear all their room in previous years to attempt to sign max players to long term deals, some teams know that they’re not quite ready to compete so they take contracts for teams trying to save money and get further away from the ever looming tax. The Nets did this past summer taking Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur in exchange for the Nuggets 2019 first and 2020 second round picks. Other teams sign veterans to short term, large inflated deals with the intention of trading them for assets or players who are under a long term contract. Most recently the Suns signed Ariza to a one year 15 million dollar deal who was traded to the wizards for a young player in Kelly Oubre they can make a decision on in the summer. The Bulls also did this signing Jabari Parker to a two year 40 million dollar deal with a team option for the summer. They traded Parker for a player in Otto Porter who everything about his game said, I need to be utilized more, and so far it’s working out. What the Pelicans should do is give Julius Randle (assuming he opts out of his current deal) the Jabari deal, or close to it.

Why it makes sense for the Pelicans: The Pelicans, however you want to look at it will be operating differently than they have in the past few summers. They will be tasked with getting the best offer they can in return for Anthony Davis, spending a ton of time investing resources into this draft (The Anthony Davis deal will be agreed upon before the draft for this reason), a new GM will be hired and the entire basketball structure is going to be retooled. Whatever happens, their goals will be astronomically different than in years past. Now let’s assume the Pelicans will get at least one extra first in this year’s draft from the AD trade, plus their own lottery pick and their two second-rounders. They will most likely leave the draft with 3-4 rookies so this in a way scratches the idea of taking back a long term contract for draft picks this year. They almost assuredly will not be signing a max free agent this summer. I believe they should operate with the intention of signing veterans to short term inflated deals, so why not one of their own?

Here’s why there is a twofold reason to use their cap for Julius Randle. Let’s say they give him something similar to what Parker(2/40 TO) received from the bulls, in the realm of 17.5 per so say 2/35 player or team option. They can use this as a tool to operate at the next deadline (along with their other 20 million in expiring in Hill and Moore), take long term salary for picks, players you want to invest in, facilitate other trades, or Randle starts to fit defensively and becomes a great cog in the team and the Pelicans decide to keep him long term. After an extremely tumultuous year with your franchise star asking for greener grass and brighter horizons, signing some of their own free agents back to deals also sends a message of this place isn’t so bad, despite what other entities want you to believe.

Why it makes sense for Randle: Randle seems to be a bit of a polarizing character among the Pelicans fan base, some absolutely love his scoring, and how he plays downhill basketball. Others think he has too many lapses on defense and his offense is a sort of black hole. I believe it’s probably somewhere in the middle of that, but this isn’t really about these opinions, it’s about why. Randle will most likely opt out of his current deal where he is just making the mid-level exception number of 9 million and it has to be true that the Pelicans and Randle have a mutual interest in reuniting. During the summer of 2020, the cap projected is around 118 million, Randle will by then have 6 seasons under his belt meaning his max is 25% percent of the cap, right under 30 million a year. Paying him around 17 million per year this summer means that in the summer of 2020, The Pelicans, or any team that acquires him can use his early-bird rights (under contract with the same team for 2 years), which pays up to 175% of his last deal which can net him close to his max anyway. He most likely will not be a max player, the point here is that the Pelicans or the receiving team has plenty of options for his next contract, while he compensated very well.

This is a lot of assuming, but it shows that a team retooling, rebuilding, soft-rebuilding, whatever you want to call it has plenty of options and each move you make should be with the intention of giving yourself more of them. They aren’t confined with the mandates that come along with a superstar. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, it just is. Suddenly almost everything is on the table again, the draft is back, salary for other purposes is back, youth investment is more important. The entire point of this is, paying Randle large short term money along with having 20 million in other expiring contracts gives them more options and broadens the possibilities of the Pelicans future. However we want to look at it the direction is going to be different and that should at least be more exciting, than the beginning of this year where we were saddled as a fan base with the ever-present rumors of a star leaving, and then those rumors were proven true.

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