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Shall We Dance?

Published: June 29, 2022

Well, that was fun.

I spent most of the season trying to remember there were actually 82 games this go ’round and lamenting that a 0.500 season was likely out of reach. The Pelicans went 36-46.

It’s not that simple, though.

Things got interesting there near the end. 0.500 was practically off the table in early February when they needed to win about 20 games while only losing 10. This is hard for many teams to do. It became a mathematical certainty with a loss to the Hornets of March 21.

Still, they fought on, and they made the Play-In.

They played right into the top-seeded Suns, led by the too familiar Chris Paul and Monty Williams. The Pelicans lost in six, but their run sent a message to NBA:

“Watch your ass.”

Now, they need to back that up this season, off-season included. I’m excited, but I’m a slow adopter. So, while I expect this coming season to be a very fun one, I do need to see it.

What do I expect? Fun. Good ol’ classic fun. While I have no specific intel on what will happen, I do have my thoughts as to what would be a good approach for Mr. Griffin.


Like it or not, it’s all about Zion until it isn’t. Mr. Williamson hasn’t even played half of his available games here in New Orleans, not even close, but nothing is stable until this situation is resolved. He’s the potentially transcendent player. He’s the difference-maker, especially after missing so much time.

The Pelicans should offer Zion the Designated Rookie Extension, not a penny less, no partial guarantees, no options for either party. No hedges. No cuteness. They need to offer it at the first instant, and he needs to sign it immediately. First announced signing type of event.

The contract can be written to protect the Pelicans if he has a career-ending injury due to that bone in his foot. This is not uncommon and is no slight on Mr. Williamson.

Other than that, clean slate. Zion gets a deal, and the Pelicans have him with no trades possible for a year, which will quiet some of the noise. Some. Then, they will have a full deal to hold him to or as leverage for a maximal return in a later trade.

It can blow up in their face, but so can shorting him a dime. For him, such a deal shows that the team that knows about him believes in him in a way that is near and dear to his heart: they aren’t labelling him as injury-prone.

This plays into the third contract. That’s the trick. That’s the one that takes years to build to.

For the team, they look like a basketball franchise in charge of their basketball business.

Those are the plusses. Now, assume whatever New Orleans does is a mistake, just for the sake of argument. Which mistake do you want to make? Overpaying or underpaying? Keeping him too long or not long enough?

Make the new mistake, and flip the script in the meantime.


What this team needs more than anything is credibility. Look at the excellence in the organization. The basketball honors, the elite tier skills in the League: T-Spoon, Vinson, Swin, Nelson, more. Ownership is first class and committed, and they get smeared for owning another billion dollar team. There is no rhyme nor is there reason. It’s just shunning someone who is viewed as an outsider.

Flip the script.

Make them belittle your profligate spending, not your perceived parsimony. Make them have to go after basketball Hall of Famers, not go after classy, smart non-basketball people.

Winning is not enough. You need credibility, and you need to $#@+ing take it, because they aren’t giving it.

You cant please everyone, so you got please yourself, so said Rick Nelson, but you can make some of those detractors pay attention and make the others tap dance or just look like fools at the same time.

Credibility for…

You aren’t trying to win Most Congenial in the NBA. You are trying to win games first, respect second, title third. One key to all that is when good players want to take a chance on you.

That’s the game outside the game. Then it’s cap this, coaching that, identity dippity do, team blah de blah. All that stuff is necessary, difficult, and important, my flippant presentation notwithstanding.

But, when good players decide to come to you, you know you have some kind of credibility. Then, you attract more, and so on… then maybe you win and maybe… dunh dunh DUNHHH… the good players want to stay, even without a title.

Which brings me to the looming offseason.

Let’s assume they sign Zion and signal “stability” to the NBA. Great. Now what?

Now wait. Zion is the big get, and he changes everything. Wait and see.

Make some edge moves, but don’t make some big move. Get stable. Reward guys. Send messages. Consolidate salary and put the team in a position to make an in-season acquisition.

If some big player points to New Orleans and declares interest, fine, deal with it, but that’s not a plan. That’s a swerve.

I hope this is what I see because this will make me happy. Other things may, too.

Don’t call it a comeback.

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