Now that the dust has settled on Monday’s Grizzlies-Pelicans trade, William Guillory of The Athletic takes a look at why the Pelicans made the move, what it means for the future, and the man assumed to be at the center of the sudden push for cap space: Kyle Lowry.
After getting off of the contracts for Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams, the Pelicans project to have about $22MM in cap space, and if they renounce Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and their remaining free agents, that number could climb to $36MM, more than enough to make a competitive offer to Lowry.
But despite the obvious on-court and leadership appeal of Lowry, Guillory preaches caution when thinking that Lowry could have the same impact that, say, Chris Paul had on the Suns. Lowry, while a great player in his own right, has been limited by injuries the last three seasons, and doesn’t have quite the same track record of raising a team’s expectations as Paul.
Guillory also points out that because of the reported interest in Lowry from teams like the Sixers, Heat and Lakers, it’s likely that New Orleans, which is not a prime free agent destination, would have to overpay for the 35-year-old guard.
We have more news from the Pelicans:
- New head coach Willie Green just finished a miracle run to the Finals with the Suns, and he’s looking to see a similar leap with the Pelicans next year, writes ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “We’re really close to taking the next step,” Green said. “I believe going into next season that’s our goal, that’s our mindset. That’s what makes us a sleeping giant. We have two young All-Stars. Putting a lot of talent around those guys and really just making this team go.”
- Within the same piece from Lopez, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin lays out what he considered his vision for the offseason: “What we hope we’re able to do in the coming weeks in the offseason and heading up through the following years is build a sustainable winner that’s rooted in that gratitude and joyfulness led by Willie Green and the players… that leadership voice, that shooting we need to put around our great young stars. We’re heading towards that.”
- While gameplans and racking up wins may be part of Green’s agenda, one priority stands out above all others, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst: ensuring Zion Williamson wants to stay in New Orleans long-term. Green has the reputation of creating deep bonds with his players, but this will be a new challenge as a first-time coach of a superstar in a small market. Williamson reportedly had some concerns with former head coach Stan Van Gundy, making Green’s ability to be a player’s coach even more crucial.