Tag: New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans v Denver Nuggets

PBT Podcast: Talking best signings of free agency so far

Leave a comment

The first day of free agency was a whirlwind — $1.3 billion in contracts handed out in one of the wildest, free spending sessions the NBA has ever seen. (Keep that in mind during the 2017 lockout when some owners cry poverty.)

There were great signings that were obvious, like a max deal from New Orleans to keep Anthony Davis. There were less high profile ones that were smart — Alex Ajinca for five-years, $20 million — and some others we’re not so sure about.

In this podcast PBT’s Kurt Helin andNBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down many of the signings from the first day plus of free agency, including the Monta Ellis and Arron Afflalo signings. By the way, we think the Suns overpaid for Brandon Knight.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Lakers, Knicks struggle on hectic first day of free agency

150702 philjackson

There were clear winners on the first day of NBA free agency, where an estimated $1.3 billion in contracts were handed out. The Cleveland Cavaliers are getting the band back together, reaching deals with Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert. The Golden State Warriors kept Draymond Green in house. The Toronto Raptors impressed and signed DeMarre Carroll. The Pelicans re-signed Anthony Davis and Omer Asik. The Phoenix Suns landed Tyson Chandler and re-signed Brandon Knight, then impressed LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs also impressed LMA and they re-signed Danny Green at a great price. The Hawks retained Paul Millsap.

As Knicks rookie Jerian Grant said: “Is this free agency or Oprah? You get a max, you get a max, you get a max…”

Yet, the Lakers and Knicks were left standing there, empty handed.

Early in day two of free agency, the Knicks landed Arron Afflalo, a nice pickup but not the game changer their fans have been hoping to see.

These are two of the games biggest brands, in the nation’s two largest markets, both with plenty of cash to spend on free agents, yet both looked woefully behind the times and unable to adjust to the new realities of the NBA.

It is just one day and both will get chances at other big names — the Knicks have long been linked to Greg Monroe, and the Lakers had the opportunity to pitch him as well (update: Monroe chose the Milwaukee Bucks). DeAndre Jordan and others are still on the board.

But both franchises are learning hard lessons.

Free agents now want more than off-the-court opportunities, they want to see a path to winning. Fast. They can live and work out in Los Angeles in the summer if they want the perks of the city, they want to be shown the analytics of how this team can help them win on the court. Now. Social media has altered the world of off-the-court endorsements, being in a big market isn’t as big an advantage as it once was. Today’s free agents want to know how the team can help them grow their brand by landing them on the biggest NBA stages — the playoffs, The Finals, prime-time games on Christmas Day, All-Star Games.

And right now, the Lakers and Knicks are bad basketball teams.

David West was blunt about it talking about the Knicks.

Those struggles on the court permeate the teams’ big pitches to free agents.

The Lakers were one of the co-frontrunners to land LaMarcus Aldridge heading into free agency, and they got the first meeting with the All-Star forward. But their most dynamic speakers are the people on the business side of the equation, Aldridge was left wanting on the basketball side. From a source that spoke to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

Aldridge considered the Lakers to be part of a “two-horse race” with the San Antonio Spurs and “wanted to be wowed” but was actually turned off by the lack of analytics on the basketball side of their presentation, according to the person….

The Lakers also contended that their analytics outline would have been stronger if they had a better roster last season. The team privately expressed envy that Houston’s presentation could be boasted by stats and on-court analysis of a team with James Harden and, indeed, Dwight Howard.

The Rockets are also far more invested in those analytics. Meanwhile, the Lakers are trying social media campaigns that both seem dated and that the NBA made them take down anyway.

To a degree, this is the impact the other 28 NBA owners wanted with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — they wanted to take away as much of the inherent advantages of big, profitable franchises as they could. They made the price for continually exceeding the luxury tax so onerous — not just financially, but taking away sign-and-trades and limiting cap exceptions to big-spending teams — that everyone is far more on the same financial playing field.

The Lakers and Knicks have seemed slow to adapt to that new reality. Around the league, they are seen as two teams less willing to embrace the analytics that have driven teams like Golden State, San Antonio and Miami in recent seasons. Both Lakers coach Byron Scott and Knicks head honcho Phil Jackson have at points dismissed the value of the three-point shot. You can try to defend the context of those statements, but the impression was left of two dinosaurs trying to win their same old-school way.

The reality is that rebuilding can be slow and hard. The Lakers can point to an excellent young core of players — D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson — and try to paint a picture of how there is hope for the future of the franchise in their hands. It’s a good picture — but players like Aldridge, at age 30, are not going to wait around for that moment. They want to see good basketball teams now. The Lakers and Knicks are just not that.

Free agency is far from over; all is not lost with either of these franchises this summer. As noted before, Monroe is certainly in play, and with the cash to spend the Lakers and Knicks are going to get the attention of other quality players still on the market.

But day one was rough in Los Angeles and New York.

Report: Pelicans finalizing deal with Omer Asik

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans

Omer Asik is not a great fit for Alvin Gentry’s offense.

But if the Pelicans let the center walk, they’d probably have under $10 million to replace him – which would likely mean getting a lesser-caliber player.

Apparently, they decided talent trumps fit.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

We’ll surely see more of Anthony Davis at center next season. But Asik will keep Davis from getting pounded in the post too often, a role that will be shared by Alexis Ajinca.

Asik is an excellent defender, and though the league is moving away from cloggers like him, that makes him very useful.

The challenge is now on Gentry to figure out how to maximize Asik offensively.

Alex Ajinca re-signs with Pelicans for four years, reported $20.5 million

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves
1 Comment

Last season, coach Monte Williams preferred to put big man Omer Asik next to Anthony Davis.

But new coach Alvin Gentry may like reserve French big man Alex Ajinca in that role — the Pelicans were +10 per 48 minutes with an offensive rating of 111.9 (points per 100 possessions) in the 220 minutes those two were on the court together last season. Ajinca is more offensive minded and has a more versatile offensive game.

Which is why the Pelicans locked up Ajinca to a four-year contract. Ajinca himself confirmed the news on Twitter.

The money is is very, very reasonable, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

Ajinca averaged 6.5 points a game on 55 percent shooting, but only played 14.1 minutes a contest for the Pelicans last season. Expect that number to go up, although defense will be the key (that is the side of the court the Pelicans need to improve upon).

New Orleans locked up Anthony Davis to a max contract just after free agency opened, and they are expected to try and re-sign Asik and Norris Cole as well. There have been rumblings they are interested in Robin Lopez, but he may be priced out of their range.

The Pelicans were never going to be big free agent players, they are betting on growth, and Alvin Gentry using the pieces they have better.

Anthony Davis and Pelicans agree to five-year, $145 million contract extension

Anthony Davis

That didn’t take long. At precisely 12:01am Eastern time, when free agency opened, the Pelicans wasted no time in locking up Anthony Davis to a five-year max extension worth around $145 million that will keep him in New Orleans through at least 2020.

From Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

New Orleans Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis has reached agreement on a maximum five-year extension that could be worth in excess of $145 million, a league source told Yahoo Sports.

The contract will have a player option after the fourth year, sources said.

Davis confirmed the news of his extension on Twitter:

Remember, the high number on the extension is tied to the 2016-17 salary cap, which is expected to be as much as $30 million higher than it is this year.

For both sides, this deal was a complete no-brainer. Davis got a ton of guaranteed money, and the Pelicans locked up the biggest rising star in the NBA (and likely future MVP) through age 29.