July 12, 2019, 12:02 am
Once Zion Williamson fell in the Pelicans’ lap, everything changed. Anthony Davis was not yet traded and it wasn’t entirely certain the Pelicans would receive a foundational young talent to headline a deal. Then David Griffin’s lottery luck struck again, and the Pelicans found themselves in a still-uncertain, but better position: they now had a foundational young player to build around and the assets that would come back from an AD trade to bolster their future interests.
Now that they had someone to build around, the calculus of a rebuild shifted gears. They could sell off Jrue Holiday to a team looking for a top-25 player and go full rebuild, or they could look to acquire young talent on the free agency market. The Pelicans chose to go in-between.
The moves the Pelicans made this summer echoed everything that David Griffin said in his various public appearances. They wanted to rebuild for the future, but they wanted to do so in a way that completely revamped the culture of basketball in this city, because the Pelicans have always been second fiddle to the Saints. And so far, every veteran that the Pelicans have chosen to acquire and every veteran that they have chosen to keep has a specific purpose for the future of this team, even if they won’t be around to reap the benefits four or five years from now.
Holiday is the steadying force. Griffin has not shied away from paying high praise to Jrue, challenging him to jump from “very good” NBA player to MVP candidate. Whether this challenge will result in the leap that Griffin wants and expects is unclear, but this is certainly clear: the team belongs to Jrue, and that is something that couldn’t be said at any time during Anthony Davis’ awkward tenure here.
J.J. Redick is the first veteran the Pelicans acquired. The 35-year-old was brought in for a very specific reason: to shore up a lineup that was virtually bereft of any volume distance shooting. To my estimation, Redick could possibly account for as much as 30% of the Pelicans’ 3-point makes this season barring any major roster changes. This makes him a pivotal consideration when constructing lineups that optimize the skills of the other players, particularly when 2-3 of the other perimeter players may lack reliable jumpers.
Derrick Favors was the final major veteran acquisition and came via trade with the Utah Jazz. Griffin noted that Favors is seen as a major part of the nucleus moving forward, which would mean that the Pelicans are hopeful to maintain Favors after his contract expires at the end of this year. They think that he has “untapped offensive potential,” which is probably linked to moving Favors out of an awkward fit with Rudy Gobert, as the two centers had a lot of skill overlap. Favors does his best work near the rim, and that is hard to do when the Stifle Tower is your frontcourt partner for a sizable number of minutes. The shift to full-time 5 should take Favors’ offense away from the perimeter, where he doesn’t belong.
The use of the Pelicans’ available cap space points to the middle ground they hope to achieve this year: a team that is built to win (some) now while still maintaining flexibility for the future. No contract handed out this summer (including Darius Miller’s, which appears to be an overpay for a short-term need and for trade salary aggregation) extends past two years, no big contracts were handed out, and no future first-round draft assets were sent out despite the deep collection of first-rounders the Pelicans possess. The hope is that the Pelicans will be good enough to compete for a playoff spot and that this culture will help the young core build and solidify good habits as they learn to play on a winning NBA team.
While it is far too early to proclaim the certainty of a bright future for the New Orleans Pelicans, one thing is clear: the front office is going to very public about what it’s going to do, and after it has declared its intentions, it is going to deliver upon them; for that reason, hope is superfluous in a way that has never been present in Crescent City basketball.
July 18, 2019, 8:11 pmTristan ThompsonC, Cleveland Cavaliers
Tristan Thompson will not play for Canada in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
This seems like a situation where Thompson is not participating to prepare for the grind of the NBA season in the fall. There was always some uncertainty with his participation but he was among the invitees to Team Canada training camp.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 18, 2019, 5:40 pmCameron ReynoldsPG, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have signed Cameron Reynolds to a two-way deal.
Reynolds played in 19 games with the Wolves as a rookie after playing for five years at Tulane University. As he moves to the Bucks, expect him to continue to compete for the opportunity to be a backup point guard in the NBA. With the Bucks entering next season as title contenders, there is no room for Reynolds in the fantasy landscape.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
July 18, 2019, 4:39 pmJavonte GreenF, Boston Celtics
Javonte Green will join the Celtics on a partially guaranteed contract.
After a strong Summer League performance where he averaged 10.8 ppg on 50% shooting, Green will get an opportunity to fight for a roster spot for the Celtics. He most recently played overseas in Germany.
Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter
July 18, 2019, 4:31 pmAmida BrimahC, Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have signed Amida Brimah to a one-year contract.
The seven-foot big man, Bridah, has had a couple short stints with the Spurs but has yet to play in a game. Expect him to compete for a roster spot come training camp but there are no guarantees that he will make the final roster.
Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter
July 18, 2019, 3:04 pmDaniel TheisPF, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have officially re-signed Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker.
The team rescinded their qualifying offer to Theis in a procedural move to maximize cap space, but he's back in Boston on a two-year, $10 million deal. He'll be battling for backup center minutes and his shooting ability (38.8 percent from deep last season on low volume) could set him apart from the rest of Boston's frontcourt options. As a player who can knock down threes and pick up some steals and blocks, there's deep-league potential for Theis should he end up pushing for something like 20 mpg. Wanamaker decided to pass on larger offers from European teams to return to the Celtics, where he may have a better shot at minutes with Terry Rozier out of the picture. Even so, he's not a fantasy target.
Source: Boston Celtics
July 18, 2019, 2:05 pmThanasis AntetokounmpoSF, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have made their signing of Thanasis Antetokounmpo official.
Antetokounmpo is believed to be on a two-year deal that is fully guaranteed for the veteran's minimum. Antetokounmpo has just two NBA appearances to his name, both coming back in 2016 with the Knicks. It's unlikely that he'll play much, if at all, though at least he'll get to hang with his MVP little brother.
Source: Milwaukee Bucks
July 18, 2019, 1:59 pmRondae Hollis-JeffersonSF, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have announced the signing of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Hollis-Jefferson had a tough season in Brooklyn, suffering an offseason adductor strain and then falling out of the rotation when he was ready to play. The Raptors will take a one-year flier on a player that can capably defend multiple positions while bringing great energy, and he'll fit in with the team's defensive identity. RHJ is only a year removed from being a top-100 fantasy player but it's unlikely that he holds standard-league value in a reserve role for Toronto. Deep-league managers can consider Hollis-Jefferson a late-round flier.
Source: Toronto Raptors
July 18, 2019, 1:41 pmKelly Oubre Jr.SF, Phoenix Suns
The Suns have officially re-signed Kelly Oubre.
Oubre is headed back to Phoenix on a two-year, $30 million deal and lost out on a bigger payday as teams alternately gobbled up cap space or played a long waiting game in free agency, leaving one of the top RFAs on the board to settle for a deal that clocks in below expectations. Oubre missed the end of the season because of thumb surgery but blossomed in Phoenix, averaging 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.7 3s on .453 shooting. That was good for top-50 value, and while that might be too lofty to expect a repeat without some breaks (the efficiency is a definite question mark), it's clear that Oubre is finally on a team that will commit to his future and there will be enough playing time to make him a late-middle round option in fantasy drafts.
Source: Phoenix Suns
July 18, 2019, 1:37 pmDavid NwabaSF, Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have announced the signing of David Nwaba.
Nwaba will head to Brooklyn on a two-year deal after bouncing around over his first three NBA seasons. It's a nice pickup for the Nets, who will get a hard-nosed forward that's capable of defending and rebounding with tenacity. Nwaba's poor shooting might not do him favors in Brooklyn's system, but he's the type of hustle player that coaches tend to like. Expect him to play a part in Kenny Atkinson's deep rotation, though fantasy value is probably out of the question when everyone is healthy.
Source: Brooklyn Nets
July 18, 2019, 12:42 pmJR SmithSG, Cleveland Cavaliers
J.R. Smith will meet with the Bucks on Thursday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
This is the first team other than the Lakers, who have already been deemed an unlikely landing spot, to be connected to Smith. Milwaukee is looking for another wing shooter and Smith would fit the bill in a perfect world, though it's unlikely that he would play a major role for any team after sitting out since November.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter