The New Orleans Pelicans struck a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies that afforded them some options this offseason. The full details of the deal are below:
This gives the Pelicans two ways of operating this offseason, either as an over-the-cap team, or a cap space team. Le's take a look at the two options and the optionality within each.
Operating as an Over-The-Cap Team
This would be my preferred route to go this offseason if I were David Griffin, the executive vice president of basketball operations in New Orleans. As it currently stands, the Pelicans are over the salary cap. They are, however, able to generate meaningful cap space this offseason. To do this, they would need to renounce their ability to do the following:
Let's move back to the trade exception that the Pelicans just created in the Memphis deal. This seems to be getting overlooked as a pivotal part of the deal. Below are just some of the players that fit inside of that $18,125,000 exception:
Despite being "capped out" I firmly believe that operating as an over-the-cap team gives the Pelicans front office much more flexibility heading into a crucial offseason.
Operating as a Cap Space Team
The other avenue the Pelicans can explore is operating as a cap space team this offseason. As previously mentioned, they would be giving up quite a bit just to get to meaningful cap space. But it certainly is meaningful cap space. New Orleans could generate up to $36.5 million in space. This puts them in contention with every free agent on the market not named Kawhi Leonard. Some that could be on New Orleans' radar include:
This cap space gives the illusion of optionality, but really at the most they would come out with two of the names mentioned above. it just doesn't make sense to go this route, unless the front office is absolutely in love with bringing in a guy like Lowry or Conley. Which, after seeing what Chris Paul did in Phoenix and OKC, isn't such a terrible idea. If you think Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are ready to make the leap and just need a veteran point guard that will get them there, you pull the trigger. But just know when the bill comes due on a Zion max extension, the roster won't be cheap.
Only time will tell which route the Pelicans go, but the trade with Memphis certainly freed up the ability to choose, which is all you can ask for in the League today.
Nick Thoreson is a young professional working in finance who is passionate about the NBA and especially all things salary cap related.