Chaos A.D.: Draft Night

Published: June 23, 2019

The New Orleans Pelicans came out of draft night with the franchise cornerstone, cleaner books, and assets. The path David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, and Bensonia envisioned is becoming clearer to us all. The result of draft night is summarized below along with the current assets.

As it stands, the Pelicans will go forward with Jrue Holiday and players with just a few years experience at most. Given the preaching of patience and that it’s Jrue’s team, the roster, and the cap space, veterans have to be inbound. These might come via free agency or trade, but it seems obvious this is the plan. The veterans will likely be good, not great. They will likely not be prime targets, if desirable.

The incoming veterans will likely be overpaid for their on-court contributions. If incoming via trade, they will likely come with future assets, such as draft picks. The Pelicans need someone to help mentor Zion and the young pups on the team, so expect one to be a big. Expect these to be good culture guys if the assets attached are minor. A massive contract is not as useful as a couple of contracts, in case some decent trades present themselves. I expect 2y or 3y contracts to come in via trade, though 1y contracts could be incoming depending on the trading team’s situation. A 1y deal is just less likely to have as valuable of an asset attached. A 4y contract is likely too long, but the right structure could make it ok. As this would almost certainly be a free agent contract, Griffin and Langdon would have a hand in that.

Remember, that the timing of deals can change, and deals on the books can expand. As such, wrinkles could develop and be exploited, both in this cap year and in the next. It’s going to be interesting.

It should also be noted that Jahlil Okafor’s team option was exercised earlier on draft day. He could have been given a small raise to the projected larger minimum had the team declined the option and re-signed him. Given that this small token was not extended to the improving big man, there are two basic conclusions, both of which can be true: the Pelicans are going forward with maximum cap space, and the Pelicans want him eligible for trade. I noted these earlier in the day, and then we saw the Pelicans dump Hill’s expiring contract. Expiring contracts have regained some value in recent years, so dumping Hill’s contract fits with the maximum room path, and much moreso than the small Okafor move. The fact that they did not just eat Hill’s expiring contract shows how serious they are, and how they are looking compete, I think in an 8th seed type of competition, not for a title.

Still, they are not looking to “develop” in the “lose to make our draft picks as good as possible” sense. They are looking to set goals that flow from one to the next, and none of those goals are to lose. The goals are to get better in a number of ways. The faith is there that the wins will follow. This is the kind of franchise transformation that should and rightfully does raise eyebrows around the NBA.

It was a good draft night and a great couple of weeks for New Orleans. I remain cautiously optimistic. I keep seeing what it is I want to see, including humility.

What The Pelicans Gained

Zion Williamson (Pick 1)
Jaxson Hayes (Pick 8)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Pick 17)
Marcos Louzada Silva (Pick 35)
2020 Cleveland 1st (if it is not top-10, otherwise Cleveland 2021 and 2022 2nd)
2021 Warriors 2nd
2023 Warriors 2nd
$1,000,000 (this season)

What the Pelicans Lost

Anthony Davis
Solomon Hill
Pick 39
Pick 57
Future 2nd

What the Pelicans Have

Cap Room

$30m – $35m


Jrue Holiday
E’Twaun Moore
Jahlil Okafor
Zion Williamson
Jaxson Hayes
Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Lonzo Ball
Brandon Ingram
Josh Hart
Kenrich Williams (2019-2020 non-guaranteed until 7/20/19, then $200k until regular season)
Christian Wood (2019-2020 non-guaranteed until regular season)
Frank Jackson (2019-2020 guaranteed for $506,143 until 6/30/19)
Dairis Bertans (2019-2020 non-guaranteed until 8/1/2019, $150k until 11/4/19, $300k until 1/10/20)
Marcos Louzada Silva (not necessary to sign)
Trevon Bluiett (rights coming off a two-way)

Minor Assets

$3,109,598 (From Mirotic trade, expires 2/7/20 or if cap room is used)
Tony Carr Rights
Latavious Williams Rights

Draft Picks

2020 Pelicans 1st, Pelicans 2nd, Bucks 2nd, Wizards 2nd
2021 Pelicans 1st, , Pelicans 2nd, Lakers 1st (Top-8 or becomes 2022 Lakers 1st), Pelicans 2nd (Bulls can swap), Wizards 2nd, Warriors 2nd
2022 Pelicans 1st, Pelicans 2nd
2023 Pelicans 1st (Pelicans can swap with Lakers), Pelicans 2nd, Warriors 2nd
2024 Pelicans 1st, Lakers 1st (can defer to 2025), Pelicans 2nd
2025 Pelicans 1st, Pelicans 2nd
2026 Pelicans 1st, Pelicans 2nd

*Some 2nd is owed to Cavaliers

(Cap details per Basketball Insiders and other sources)

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