Pelicans need to fit Davis into $ cap
The Pelicans made the playoffs. Now comes the hard part.
General manager Dell Demps and head coach Monty Williams must convince superstar forward Anthony Davis to sign a max contract, while finding ways to improve the roster.
Davis, who earned $5.6 million this season as part of his rookie deal, was an incredible bargain.
But, depending on where the NBA salary caps falls, he could earn anywhere from $25 to $30 million a season.
More cap space spent on the Pelicans star means there will be less money to spend elsewhere. And, the Pelicans don’t have a lot of good, cheap labor.
If Eric Gordon takes his player option for 2015-16, he’ll earn more than $15 million. Jrue Holiday will earn $11 million and fellow guard Tyreke Evans more than $10 million.
The Pelicans also will have to decide if they want to be in the market to re-sign center Omer Asik. Asik scored eight points, and grabbed 29 rebounds in limited minutes in the playoff series against Golden State.
In the NBA, guaranteed contracts make it extremely difficult to win consistently in small markets. Four years ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder took Miami to seven games in the finals. But in October 2012, after he spurned a contract offer from the Thunder, OKC traded James Harden to Houston.
Harden wanted a max deal, something the Thunder could not deliver after guaranteeing money to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.
This season, Durant missed 55 games with a foot injury. Head coach Scott Brooks was fired. Durant’s name, along with his hefty contract, has surfaced in trade rumors.
So, what is the Pelicans’ best path? Clearly it would be to sign Anthony Davis to a mega deal. Then, Davis and head coach Monty Williams must convince good, veteran players to come to New Orleans for a discount and have a chance to compete for a championship. Which is exactly what the Spurs did with Tim Duncan.
However, in his second season in the NBA, Duncan teamed with David Robinson to win an NBA title. The Pelicans’ first-round pick went to Houston in the trade for Asik.
And, first-round picks will prove to be valuable commodities in the future. Remember, surround Anthony Davis with good, cost-effective labor.
But, there are no guarantees for the Pelicans. Despite Durant’s prolonged absence, Oklahoma City tied New Orleans in the standings. And, Utah, with a lottery pick in hand, won 13 more games than a year ago.
So, for the Pelicans, it is a job well done. But, the heavy lifting is only beginning.