Building a Team Around a Jrue/Boogie/AD Core

Published: February 20, 2017

It is hard to not be excited about the Pelicans absolute fleecing of the Kings in this DeMarcus Cousins trade. Getting a superstar is difficult. Getting a superstar to come to a small market is even harder. Getting a superstar to come to a small market when you don’t have elite assets to trade for him is almost impossible. But Dell Demps just pulled it off. But don’t think that he is just going to sit back and relax now, hoping that those three alone take this team to the top of the mountain. With Cousins on the books for one more year at a below market salary and Jrue’s cap hold this summer being much smaller than his eventual salary, New Orleans has a small window to strike in the next few months and add even more talent to this already stacked top three.

First, let’s start by talking about how the Big 3 fit on the books going into this summer. Anthony Davis will count for about $23.8 million, while Cousins will count for $18 million. Meanwhile, Jrue Holiday’s cap hold (before they re-sign him) will count for just under $17 million. So, even if the Pelicans plan on re-signing him for a deal starting at $25 million per year, they only need to budget $17 million before they do. So, in essence, the Big 3 will count for about $59 million against the cap going into free agency, where the cap is set to be over $100 million.

The Pelicans could theoretically clear deck and go after another big fish to match Golden State’s Big 4, or they could keep guys like Hill and Moore, and still have some money to play with before re-signing Holiday. The key is getting rid of the big anchor on their books – Omer Asik. They can do that with the stretch provision, which would instantly chop his salary from $11 million dollars on the books next year to about $3.5 million. Do that, find a home for Ajinca, and maybe move just one of the Hill/Moore combo and the team has significant room to make an uneven trade to take on a guy like Evan Fournier, Kent Bazemore, Allen Crabbe, or Wesley Matthews. Or they can hit free agency and make a run at Iguodala, JJ Redick, etc.

The point is that the Big 3 is not handcuffing this team…. yet. There will come a day where those three are making $80-90 million dollars per year and the Pelicans are bumping up against or going over the luxury tax as a result. But that day is not here yet. The Pelicans have a window to land one or two more significant pieces to put around those guys, as they look to build a contender. The will have money, and the second the 2017 draft wraps up, they will have the ability to trade all of their future picks again. But they will have to capitalize on the window before they re-sign Jrue Holiday, because once they do that, their cap space is effectively gone. And do NOT expect Cousins to sign an extension this July. It makes all the financial sense in the world for him to hit FA and then re-sign, at which point he will cost nearly $35 million per year.

Dell Demps has pulled off one miracle, and the talent on this roster has taken a dramatic leap as a result. Don’t be surprised if Dell has one more tiny miracle in that back pocket.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.