Pelicans Rumors

NBA Players Weigh In On 2018 Free Agency

With a big offeason looming once the 2017/18 NBA regular season comes to an end, several ESPN writers spoke to NBA players to get their predictions on where they expect some of this summer’s top free agents to land. In total, 48 players weighed in. Here are some highlights from the results of ESPN’s survey:

  • LeBron James is considered likely to return to the Cavaliers, with 59% of the respondents picking Cleveland as his free agency destination, while 22% chose the Lakers. “He won’t leave after all the moves they made last week,” one Eastern Conference forward said of LeBron, referring to the Cavs’ trade-deadline deals. Asked where James should sign, even more respondents (66%) voted for Cleveland.
  • If James does decide he wants to join the Lakers, the LaVar Ball show won’t be a deterrent, according to 89% of the players surveyed. “If LeBron comes to L.A., then it’s the LeBron show. Not the Ball show,” said one Eastern Conference center.
  • Most of the survey respondents (80%) believe DeMarcus Cousins will re-sign with the Pelicans.
  • Only 33% of the players surveyed expect Paul George to be in the Thunder‘s opening-night lineup for 2018/19.
  • The respondents are slightly in favor (59%) of maximum salary contracts existing in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. “LeBron, Steph and KD, all those guys bring a lot more than what they’re getting paid,” said one Western Conference guard. “But being a lower-tier salary guy myself, if you pay those guys even more, the lower guys on the totem pole don’t really get anything.”
  • Asked which teams make the best pitches to free agents, players chose the Celtics (27%), Heat (15%), Lakers (12%), and Warriors (9%), with nine other clubs receiving votes. One Eastern Conference guard on Boston: “If you bring Tom Brady? That’s pretty damn cool.”

Anthony Davis Has Developed Into Major Force

  • Sunday’s All-Star game was supposed to be a celebratory moment for Davis and DeMarcus Cousins as they were the two Pelicans selected to the event. However, a season-ending torn Achilles heel sidelined Cousins for the rest of 2017/18 and cast doubt on whether or not the impending free agent will ever team with Davis again, Kushner writes in a separate story.

Pelicans Adjusting To Life Without Cousins

  • In the Pelicans‘ win over the Lakers on Wednesday, Jrue Holiday reached 2,075 minutes on the season, reaching the minutes criteria bonus in his contract. Holiday will earn $255K thanks to the incentive, which had already been considered “likely,” tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • The Pelicans hit a rough patch after 2018 All-Star DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles, losing five out of six games as they adjusted to life without their starting center. However, a three-game winning streak keeps the team’s playoff hopes alive heading into the All-Star break, Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes.

Pelicans Sign Emeka Okafor To Second 10-Day Deal

FEBRUARY 14: The Pelicans have officially signed Okafor to a second 10-day contract, the team announced today (via Twitter). Due to the All-Star break, it will run through February 25, technically making it a 12-day deal.

FEBRUARY 13: After earning his first NBA start since 2013 on Monday night, veteran center Emeka Okafor saw his 10-day contract with the Pelicans expire. However, the team won’t let him get away. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), New Orleans will re-sign Okafor to a second 10-day deal.

The second overall pick in the 2004 draft, Okafor hadn’t played an NBA regular season game since the 2012/13 season before he signed with the Pelicans earlier this month. In three contests, including last night’s start, the 35-year-old has held his own, averaging 5.0 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 14.3 MPG.

The timing for Okafor’s second 10-day contract remains unclear. New Orleans plays one more game before the All-Star break, facing the Lakers on Wednesday. If Okafor finalizes his new deal today or tomorrow, it would run through February 25, since 10-day contracts require a player to be with the team for at least three games. As such, the All-Star break could turn Okafor’s new deal into a 12- or 13-day contract, assuming the Pelicans don’t wait until after the break to finalize it.

Having created two open roster spots when they sent three players to the Bulls in exchange for Nikola Mirotic, the Pelicans signed DeAndre Liggins and Okafor to fill out their squad. However, the club created another opening by waiving Rashad Vaughn after the deadline. After re-signing Okafor, the Pels will be carrying 14 players on their 15-man NBA roster.

When Okafor’s new 10-day contract expires, the Pelicans will have to decide whether to part ways with him or lock him up for the rest of the season.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.

With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.

Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.

Teams with one open spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.

Teams with two open spots:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.

Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.

Pelicans Waive Rashad Vaughn, Mike James

The Pelicans have requested waivers on guard Rashad Vaughn and two-way player Mike James, per an official press release from the team. And according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, it looks like New Orleans may use the newly acquired roster spot gained from releasing Vaughn to give the team an option to acquire another player in the upcoming buyout market.

Vaughn, who began this season with the Bucks, was acquired by the Nets in exchange for Tyler Zeller earlier this week. Then, on trade deadline day, the Nets traded him to the Pelicans in exchange for Dante Cunningham, giving New Orleans a trade exception worth $2.3MM, the value of Cunningham’s salary.

The 21-year-old former first-round pick played in only one game for the Nets and didn’t suit up for the Pelicans. In Milwaukee, he appeared in 22 games this season, averaging 2.7 PPG in only 7.9 MPG. He will become an unrestricted free agent assuming he clears waivers.

James, whose release was first reported yesterday by David Pick, asked the Pelicans to waive him so that he could return to Panathinaikos B.C. in Greece, where James helped Panathinaikos win both the Greek Cup title and the Greek Basket League championship last season.

Likely most recognized for being the first player in NBA history to have his two-way contract converted into a regular season contract, James put up respectable numbers for the Suns as a rookie earlier this season, averaging 10.4 points and 3.8 assists in 20.9 minutes per game before being waived to make room on the roster for Isaiah Canaan.

2017/18 Buyout Market Summary

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, much attention is being paid to what is expected to be several weeks of busy buyout market activity. The last day that a player can be waived from their current team and still be eligible to play in the postseason with a new team is March 1.

Below are a series of lists breaking down the veterans who have already been bought out – or simply waived – by their respective teams since the trade deadline, along with those who are expected to be, and several more who really ought to be considered possible buyout candidates even if no reports have come out explicitly stating as much.

As the weeks unfold, we may see new names surface as buyout candidates, in such cases (and whenever a player is formally bought out) we’ll update the list.

Potential buyout candidates:

Expected to be bought out or released:

  • None

Veterans who have been bought out or released:

Traded Player Exceptions Created In Deadline Deals

Before NBA teams started reaching trade agreements on Thursday, we published the latest entry in our Hoops Rumors Glossary, focusing on the traded player exception. As we explain in our breakdown, the traded player exception can allow over-the-cap teams to receive more salary than they send out in “simultaneous” trades.

The more common form of traded player exception is the one generated in a “non-simultaneous” trade, when a team send out a single player and takes back less salary – or none at all – in return. The team then has one calendar year to use that newly-created exception to acquire one or more players whose salaries fit into that exception.

For instance, the Raptors created a $11,800,000 trade exception in last July’s DeMarre Carroll trade with the Nets, meaning that on Thursday they could have acquired a player earning, say, $11MM without sending out any salary in return.

Not many teams took advantage of their outstanding trade exceptions on Thursday, but at least a couple teams appear to have completed trades with previously existing trade exceptions, or with disabled player exceptions. Nearly every trade completed on Thursday also generated at least one new trade exception, so we’ll round up those newly-created TPEs below.

With the help of tweets from cap experts Albert Nahmad and Bobby Marks, along with information from RealGM’s official transactions log, here’s a breakdown of the new TPEs, sorted by value. Not all of these exceptions have been confirmed with 100% certainty, but this is what we believe they’ll look like. These TPEs will expire if they’re not used by February 8, 2019:

Our list of outstanding traded player exceptions has been updated, and will be adjusted if necessary once we’re able to confirm all the TPEs listed above.

If you have any corrections or questions, please let us know in the comment section.

Pelicans Trade Dante Cunningham To Nets

3:47pm: The trade is now official, according to a press release issued by the Nets.

1:30pm: The Pelicans are trading forward Dante Cunningham to the Nets in exchange for Rashad Vaughn, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The 30-year-old veteran on an expiring deal, who had previously requested a trade from New Orleans, will arrive in Brooklyn and plans to stay there. David Aldridge of TNT tweets that the forward does not intend to pursue a buyout from his new team after three and a half seasons with the Pelicans.

In 51 games for the Pels, including 24 starts, Cunningham averaged 5.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. While he may not move the needle much for the Brooklyn franchise at first glance, the Nets staff has already done great things maximizing the value of other veterans at similar stages in their career.

The deal comes hours after a previous Cunningham swap fell through. Earlier today we wrote that the Pistons were engaged with New Orleans but ultimately traded the package of assets reserved for Cunningham to the Grizzlies for forward James Ennis instead.

This is the second time in a week that Vaughn will change teams. After starting the year with the Bucks, the 21-year-old shooting guard played one game for the Nets. Now he’ll join a Pelicans squad desperate for perimeter scoring.

Celtics Sign Greg Monroe

FEBRUARY 8: Now that the trade deadline has passed without the Celtics needing to use their open roster spot, the team has made Monroe’s signing official.

FEBRUARY 2: Veteran center Greg Monroe will sign with the Celtics after he becomes a free agent this weekend, a league source tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Monroe, bought out and waived by the Suns on Thursday, is on track to clear waivers on Saturday.GregMonroe vertical Getty

[RELATED: Suns buy out Greg Monroe]

The Celtics and Pelicans were believed to be the frontrunners for Monroe, a New Orleans native. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Pels offered Monroe the opportunity to be their starting center, but the big man will instead head to Boston, where he’ll have fewer guaranteed minutes, but a better chance to win a title.

Monroe will also be well compensated on his new deal with the Celtics, as Wojnarowski tweets that the one-year contract will be worth $5MM. That’s more than the Pelicans could offer, with Boston taking advantage of its extra flexibility by using its disabled player exception to reach an agreement with Monroe.

Even though the Celtics’ disabled player exception – awarded after Gordon Hayward went down in the team’s season opener – is worth $8.4MM, the DPE can only be used once, so the team won’t have the remaining $3.4MM available. Still, Boston plans to continue exploring the market for a perimeter scorer, according to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, who cautions (via Twitter) that the front office is reluctant to part with a first-round pick.

Monroe, who opened the season in Milwaukee, was sent to the Suns in the fall for salary-matching purposes as part of the Bucks’ trade for Eric Bledsoe. The 27-year-old saw inconsistent minutes in Phoenix as he battled fellow centers Tyson Chandler and Alex Len for playing time.

Although Monroe has had his role reduced and has only appeared in 25 games this year, he has continued to be very effective on a per-minute basis, averaging 10.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG with a .601 FG% in 21.8 minutes per contest. He’ll join a Celtics frontcourt that could use some interior scoring and rebounding help. Outside of Al Horford, no one on Boston’s roster is averaging more than 5.5 RPG this season.

The Celtics are currently carrying 14 players on their roster, so they won’t need to waive anyone to make room for Monroe. However, the move could be bad news for Jarell Eddie, who would have been a candidate to rejoin the C’s if they still had a roster spot available after the trade deadline.

It’s also worth noting that there’s no rule preventing Hayward from returning to the Celtics before season’s end if he’s healthy enough to do so. The NBA initially awarded the C’s their DPE after an independent physician determined that the injured forward was more likely than not to be sidelined through June 15. If Hayward beats that recovery timetable, Boston wouldn’t be penalized at all.

As for the Pelicans, while they’ll be disappointed to miss out on Monroe, they did add another frontcourt piece on Thursday, acquiring Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls. New Orleans also still has two open roster spots, so the club figures to keep an eye out for more reinforcements on the trade market or buyout market.

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