How the Pelicans Can Make Room For a DeAndre Jordan Max Contract

Published: May 19, 2015

A report came out yesterday saying that there was some tension between Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan this season. If that is the case, and DeAndre Jordan goes into free agency with an open mind, it would make sense for Dell to pursue him. That is the easy part. The hard part is meeting his contract demands, should he decide that a pairing with Anthony Davis makes the most sense for him. Multiple teams with throw a max contract at Jordan, so the Pelicans will have to match that just to be in the conversation, and that contract would start at $18.8 million next season.

As you can see in this terrific piece done by Mason Ginsberg, the Pelicans won’t have that kind of space unless Eric Gordon opts out. Even if they renounce the rights to Omer Asik and all the other potential free agents this summer, they will fall about $10 million short of meeting Jordan’s demands. But this has never stopped Demps before. If he sees a target he wants, he goes and gets him and then figures out how to make the money work later. He did it with Tyreke Evans two years ago, and he did it brilliantly with Omer Asik last year.

So, how can Dell find a way to give Jordan a max contract if the free agent big man decides to make New Orleans his home? Glad you asked!

1. Find a Trade Partner for Eric Gordon

This is the simplest solution in theory, but maybe the hardest to actually execute. Eric Gordon is due $15.5 million next season, and if you can get a team to absorb his full contract, you could have enough to sign Jordan, and also pick up Cole’s Qualifying Offer. That would give you a terrifying three-man trio as your bigs (AD-Jordan-Ryno) and three guards all capable of playing both positions (Jrue-Tyreke-Cole), plus Quincy can swing down to the two. You can add a SF with he room exception, or maybe you move Ryno for a SF and bring Cunningham back to play the 4.

As for Gordon suitors, you are looking for a team that wants to be better next year, but misses out on free agents (think New York or the Lakers) or you can find a team with a ton of cap room that will take him on if you throw them a future pick (think Philly). Gordon is expiring, so he might actually be somewhat sought after, especially when you consider he can be a temporary fix before he comes off the books just as the cap jumps next year.

2. Negotiate a Buyout and Stretch Eric Gordon

I have talked about this at length here and here, and now could be the best time to utilize this clause. The Pelicans can stretch Gordon, and that will guarantee them at least $10.3 million in savings this year. Or, they can negotiate a buyout (of say $12 million) that will save them a little more. Gordon might agree to this because it will give him freedom with regard to where he plays next year, rather than being subject to the process where anybody can place a bid for his services and he has to go there.

3. Trade Tyreke Evans

You can make the argument that it might be smarter to keep Eric Gordon because of his shooting and relationship with Jordan, and let Tyreke go because the paint is likely to be more clogged with DeAndre. The Gordon lineup would provide far more space, and Tyreke would likely have more value on the market than Gordon. Rather than giving up an asset to unload Gordon, you might be able to get an asset for Tyreke. You can take back a late lotto or mid-to-late 1st round pick for Tyreke and have enough money to give Jordan the max. Would you rather have Eric Gordon and Sam Dekker next to Jrue, AD, and Jordan or Tyreke Evans?

4. Sign and Trade With the Clippers

This one gets a little messy, as the Pelicans would have to send out at least $14 million in salary to make this work. That can mean Gordon. It could mean Tyreke and Q-Pon, or re-signing Asik and trading him with Ryan Anderson. But it would involve too many moving parts, and if Jordan wants to come here anyway, why would Dell give up assets for him when he doesn’t need to? Still, it’s a possibility.


If Dell can come to terms with DeAndre Jordan this summer, he can make the money work. It might kill some depth and it will weaken our guard rotation, but it will also instantly give the Pelicans the best front line in the NBA. The offense could become almost unstoppable if the point guards read the pick and roll correctly, the defense will be impenetrable, and the boards will all be swallowed up.

People will bring up the Hack-A-Shaq concern with Jordan, but there is a solid chance that the rules committee changes that in the coming months or years, and you also always have Ryan Anderson to throw in the game when that happens. It’s not like you will have to put in Big Baby or Hedo Turkoglu. The issue here will be convincing Jordan that this is the best spot for him. The selling point will obviously be Anthony Davis, and the prospect that another piece can be added next summer. A team with Jrue, AD, and Jordan would still have enough cap space to get a major (even a max) piece in 2016, even if AD and Jordan are maxed out. Oh, and the new coach could get Jordan excited too .

That guy Gentry had some success with him (Clips had the #1 offense in the league with him as an assistant). A defensive minded coach would love it too. A Jordan/Davis combo would get early offense started with their ability to block shots, steal/deflect passes, and swallow up every rebound on the defensive end. Regardless of the direction the Pelicans go in their coaching search, anybody could make that combo work.


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