An Outside the Box Approach to the Offseason for David Griffin and the Pelicans

Published: September 3, 2020

Go young. Get Vets. Trade Jrue. Move Lonzo. Get more picks. Trade away picks.

You ask 5 people and you will get 5 totally different philosophies and ideas on how David Griffin should approach this offseason for the Pelicans. Well, here is a 6th….one you haven’t heard yet — Attack free agency aggressively. But how, you ask. The Pelicans won’t have much cap room even if they renounce all their free agents, with the exception of Brandon Ingram. And you are right, as currently constructed, they wouldn’t have much space. But what if JJ Redick and Jrue Holiday all of a sudden weren’t on the roster?

While many have proposed trades involving Holiday and Redick, very few have seen cap space as a major acquisition if they were to be moved. But instead of looking at Brooklyn or Denver as trade partners and needing to match salary, what if you talked with teams who could make uneven trades, gifting the Pelicans cap space as part of the package?

Imagine trading Jrue to Atlanta, and instead of getting as many assets as possible, you just take Kevin Huerter, #6, and maybe a protected future 1st. Not a huge haul, admittedly. But what if you can now go sign Fred Van Vleet with the cap space you gained from that move? If I were to say Fred Van Vleet, #6, Huerter, and a future pick for Jrue, you would do it in a second, wouldn’t you?

Or on the surface, trading JJ Redick into the Warriors TPE and only getting Eric Paschall and a few seconds would feel like selling low. But what if you turned around and got Jerami Grant or Serge Ibaka with that money in free agency? Again, would you trade JJ on this team loaded with guards already for Paschall, one of those guys great front line players, and a few picks? Of course you would.

The other thing the Pelicans could do with all the cap space generated by moving Jrue and JJ to teams that can absorb them is take on high salary veterans who can help, while acquiring some picks for your troubles. Think Philadelphia and Al Horford. A guy the Pelicans pursued just last offseason can now be had, and not only can Griffin get him, he could receive picks to take him on. Same veteran leadership, passing, and spacing he wanted last year, but now some picks and/or young guys thrown on top.

With a cap that is likely to flatten, very few teams will have space this offseason. And many who could have space will choose instead to forgo giving out 2-4 year deals because they want to have as much space as possible for the summer of 2021. If the Pelicans are willing to hand out 2-4 year deals and/or acquire guys in trades that have 2-4 years remaining on their deals, they could get bargains they may not otherwise have a chance to get in a normal offseason.

This would be a classic sell-buy, that in the aggregate can produce more in both the short term and long term than Griffin could pull off with a more traditional path. You get value for your current vets while also opening up space to acquire other vets in free agency and/or the trade market with little to no competition from other teams. In fact, if executed correctly, you could eliminate some of your competition (example – trading Jrue to Atlanta takes a bidder out of the running).

Admittedly, this path only works if you know you can get some of the free agents you covet and/or you know you can get quality assets from teams looking to dump big salary vets. But it is an avenue Griffin should explore if he wants to get maximum value out of both the buy and sell markets. If executed properly, he can head into next season with a quality roster for his new coach and a ton of assets in the war chest to round out a championship caliber roster in the years to come.

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