METAIRIE (KATC) Guessing what New Orleans will do in free agency, is kind of like picking up your phone and seeing an unknown number calling. There are clues to who’s calling you, the area code, the time of day, whether or not the number is blocked. But until you answer it, you just don’t really know. (Hopefully it’s not a telemarketer.) And until free agency hits, you don’t exactly know who’s suiting up in New Orleans this fall.
The Pelicans have options, and $30 million dollars of fun too. But chasing a big fish would be an interesting motion for a team who looks like they’re more in year two of a rebuild, rather than being a piece away from a championship. Still, New Orleans is set for years when it comes to draft picks, thanks the the Anthony Davis trade, and playing it aggressive now may be the best message to send to guys like Jrue Holiday, who likely isn’t thrilled about being another three or four years from making it back to the playoffs.
There have been conflicting reports that New Orleans is focusing its chase on Al Horford. There has literally been conflicting reports within hours of each other saying the Pelicans are all in on the 33-year-old center, and not even considering. (See @TheSteinLine)
Horford makes a lot of sense for New Orleans, who needs a center, and Horford’s ability to shoot the ball is a desperately needed skill missing from the lineup. But Horford won’t come cheap. Reports suggest that he’s seeking a 4-year deal and is likely will cost north of $100 million to bring him to New Orleans. That’s a hefty price tag for someone who will be 37 when his contract is done. But Horford is already liking Zion and Jrue on Instagram, so it’s a done deal right?
Tobias Harris has been floated as a Pelican target for some time now. Harris is part of a frenzied situation in Philadelphia. With three marquee free agents, and no cap room even if they lose one, the Sixers are playing chess with no pawns on the board. One wrong move and it’s checkmate.
In steps New Orleans. The Sixers may not be interested in Harris as a max player. Philadelphia would enter salary purgatory with little money to pay Ben Simmons next summer with Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and Harris locked into hefty deals. (This changes if Butler leaves) Harris could wind up playing for whoever offers him a max, and there won’t be a ton of teams lining up to do so, even though he averaged 20.0 ppg last year and is only 26.
If New Orleans strikes out on Horford, or doesn’t chase him New Orleans may be in on Dewayne Dedmon. The soon-to-be 30-year-old had the two best seasons of his career in Atlanta. He developed a shot. A few years back he started hitting free throws, and now he’s jacking up 200-plus threes a season. Last year he connected on 38-percent of them.
Dedmon seems to be a number of teams’ Plan B. Make him your Plan A and offer up a little extra cash and maybe he’s your’ starting center by Monday. And he won’t be that expensive.
J.J. Reddick, Frank Kaminsky, and Booke Lopez are a few more of the dozen of players you can find tied to New Orleans this time of year. The Pelicans could wind up bringing Julius Randle back at Ccnter, you really never know this time of year.
The Advocate put together a in-depth look at free agency for New Orleans that also dives into what the Pelicans might do with their current free agents, guys like Randle, Ian Clarke and former Cajun Elfrid Payton.