Following their huge trade with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, the New Orleans Pelicans can now make one of two moves this offseason.
Even though the NBA Finals just concluded last week, it is full speed ahead on the offseason, with the very first step being the 2021 NBA Draft. With the draft scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 29, the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies decided to work out a deal.
According to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans have acquired Jonas Valenciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks in this year’s draft and sent Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, picks No. 10 and 40 in the 2021 NBA Draft along with a protected first-round selection in 2022, via the Los Angeles Lakers.
While it seems like it was a confusing trade, it makes more sense out of the Pelicans camp. Now, they have the money to make one of two moves — match an offer sheet for point guard Lonzo Ball or make a run at a free agent point guard like Kyle Lowry, as Wojnarowski points out.
Retaining Lonzo Ball
All eyes will be set on the unrestricted free agents once the negotiation window opens up on Aug. 2, but Ball is perhaps the most sought after restricted free agent on the market not named John Collins.
Back on July 13, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Pelicans were unlikely to match a significant offer sheet for Ball’s services. Charania continued, listing the Chicago Bulls and LA Clippers as teams that were interested in signing Ball.
Ball is coming off a 2020-21 season where he averaged 14.6 points (career-high), 5.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting career-bests in field goal-percentage (41.4) and three-point percentage (37.8).
With the Pelicans freeing up cap space, this could allow them to match any offer sheet Ball receives this offseason, and there could be a decent amount from point guard-needy teams. Or, they could go shoot for the stars.
Make a run at Kyle Lowry
While the likes of Chris Paul and Mike Conley are technically unrestricted free agents, perhaps the most attainable point-man in free agency is Lowry.
The Pelicans have already began their overhaul with this trade and the hiring of Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green as their new head coach. But, the Pelicans have to begin building a legitimate contender around star Zion Williamson, who is due for a new contract in 2023. The best way to do that is to pair him alongside a veteran like Lowry. But, it won’t come cheap.
According to Adam Borai of Five Reason Sports, Lowry is seeking a deal in the range of $90 million over three years.
This past season, Lowry averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 43.6-percent from the field and 39.6-percent from the three-point line.
The Pelicans are now in a good position to make a run at Lowry, but they will have to compete against legitimate playoff contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks, whom are all reportedly considered “top suitors” for his services, per Charania.