Pels Bring Back Alexis Ajinca

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Published: July 1, 2015

Alexis Ajinca and the Pelicans reached an agreement on a four-year deal worth $20.2 million. Here is what a rounded yearly breakdown might look like:

2015-16 – $4,540,000

2016-17 – $4,880,000

2017-18 – $5,220,000

2018-19 – $5,560,000

The 27 year old will be entering his 6th year in the league. This past season was a good one for the 7 foot center, averaging a career high 6.5 points a game to go along with 4.6 rebounds in a reserve role.

Ajinca really showed his worth over a two-month period from February through March where he was asked to step into a bigger role with fellow big men Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson both missing extended time to injury. Over those 26 games Ajinca averaged a very productive 9.5 points and 6 rebounds, shooting 53.7% from the field in about 19 minutes a night.

Ajinca has gotten better every year he has been in the league and this year really proved he could be relied upon to be in the regular rotation. In previous seasons he would get in foul trouble too quickly to be put on the floor, but this season he made the most of his limited minutes. He really made strides in using his length on both ends of the floor, bothering opponents on defense and using his touch to punish bigs on offense. He posted a career high offensive rating of 113 and tied a career low 103 defensive rating.

He still gets himself into some foul trouble, averaging just under 6 fouls per 36 minutes (5.7), but he showed major improvements in that area. He should only continue to see improvement now that he can work with an extremely detail oriented guy in Darren Erman. It is yet to be seen how he would fit in the up-tempo offense expected to be implemented under Alvin Gentry, as Ajinca gets a lot of his offense from back-to-the-basket work. However, he does possess a fairly reliable mid-range shot and has gotten better in the pick and roll game, averaging 1.08 points per possession as the roll man.

Ajinca was resigned using Early Bird Rights so the Pels still have Bird Rights to Omer Asik, the MLE, and the Bi-Annual Exception as they operate over the cap. Ajinca’s deal won’t even account for 5% of the cap over the course of the deal with the expected jump in the salary cap looming, so this was not a very expensive signing and Ajinca got the pay raise he deserved. Good deal for both sides, especially if Ajinca continues to get better.

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