• 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.

Fantasy News

  • Zach LaVine
    SG, Chicago Bulls

    The Bulls will hire Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas as their new VP of Basketball Operations, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    A deal between parties is being finalized but Karnisovas has been considered the frontrunner since his name emerged as one of the candidates. Karnisovas is replacing John Paxson and will be tasked with hiring a GM and a number of lower level staff to help reshape Chicago's entire basketball hierarchy. It's a much-needed move for a franchise that's looked listless despite having some talented young players.

    Source: ESPN

  • Zach LaVine
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Denver's GM Arturas Karnisovas completed a "second lengthy interview" for the Bulls' top basketball executive position on Wednesday.

    The interview was with owner Jerry Reinsdorf and COO Michael Reinsdorf. Karnisovas is the "clear frontrunner" for the job, and a change in the front office can only be positive for the Bulls franchise and their players' fantasy values. Karnisovas joined the Nuggets as assistant GM in 2013 and was promoted to GM in 2017. During his time in the front office Denver has steadily improved and was headed for a second straight 50-win season. Hopefully he can bring in a coach that can reproduce Denver's offense, as the Bulls currently rank 29th in offensive rating this season.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Trae Young
    PG, Atlanta Hawks

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA and ESPN are close to finalizing a televised Horse competition that expects to feature Trae Young, Chris Paul, Zach LaVine and others.

    It is also believed that there will be some participants from the WNBA as well as recent NBA alumni. The NBA has been trying to find any way to get their product back on television and this seems like the easiest way to make that happen in the current environment. The NBA might still be a ways away but NBA fans will be able to watch some of their favorite athletes in a good old fashioned Horse competition.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Report: Nuggets' General Manager Arturas Karnisovas is the early frontrunner for the Bulls' top exec spot.

    The Bulls are finally planning to move on from the Gar Foreman and John Paxson-led front office, though both may stay with the organization. Karnisovas has the draft and development track record that the Bulls are seeking. The search is in the early stages, though the Bulls do plan to have someone hired prior to the resumption of the season.

    Source: nbcsports.com

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Report: NBA players that received advanced payments or regular payments on a six-month cycle instead of a 12-month cycle could return significant amounts to owners as part of a compensation deal.

    Owners may already get back a pro-rated amount of their players' salaries for each game that is not made up this season. And these players that have been paid some of their salary early would need to return the advanced portion, as well. The takeaway here is that both sides would clearly benefit by playing as many regular season games as possible, but the painful talks about how to handle the missing revenue from the inevitable missed games are moving along.

    Source: cnbc.com

  • Cassius Stanley
    SG, College

    Duke freshman shooting guard Cassius Stanley (6-foot-6, 193 pounds) has announced his plans to enter the 2020 NBA draft, after racking up averages of 12.6 PTS, 2.9 REB and 1.1 3-pointers per game, while setting averages of 47.4 percent FG, 36.0 percent from long range and 73.3 percent from the free throw line in his only season with the Blue Devils.

    Stanley had a solid shortened (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) freshman year at Duke and has decided to follow the ever-popular one-and-done route for college players coming out of perennial powerhouse programs. While his numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, he is immensely talented and can put the ball in the bucket. At this point, whenever the 2020 draft happens, Stanley projects as a second-round selection.

    Source: Adam Zagoria on Twitter

  • Both Gach
    SG, College

    Sophomore Both Gach, a 6-foot-3 ,183 pound guard out of Utah, announced his plans on Tuesday to enter the 2020 NBA draft after concluding his second (shortened; due to COVID-19 pandemic) season with the Utes, averaging 10.7 PTS, 3.6 REB and 2.9 AST in 2019-20.

    Unlike Nico Mannion, who also declared for the draft Tuesday, this announcement was less expected. Gach is likely looking to gauge interest from NBA teams and may not hire an agent, at least not initially. He caught some eyes with his play early in the season, but currently does not project as a selection in either round of the upcoming draft. There's a chance we see Gach back with Utah next season.

    Source: Evan Daniels on Twitter

  • Nico Mannion
    PG, College

    Nico Mannion, a highly-touted freshman guard out of Arizona, has entered his name into the 2020 NBA draft pool on Tuesday.

    Mannion has garnered national attention since his high school days, largely due to his impressive video clips on social media and YouTube. He has been projected as a lottery pick in the 2020 draft for some time now, so it's safe to say this isn't surprising in the least. Mannion has incredible skill as a distributor and despite his low shooting percentages in his lone season at Arizona (39.2 percent FG and 32.7 percent from deep), he should not be on the board beyond the lottery picks, whenever the 2020 draft occurs.

    Source: ESPN

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The NBA "would like to have a champion crowned by Labor Day weekend," per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Wojnarowski was on "Get Up" on Tuesday morning with host Mike Greenberg when he gave the latest timeline that he is hearing. Woj made it a point of emphasis that this is the ideal timeline that the NBA is hoping to complete this season by, and added that if this comes to fruition there is no question that the start of next season would be delayed. This is the latest timeline that we are hearing about, and we will have to see how realistic this is as time passes.

    Source: ESPN

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    NBA teams will not be allowed to conduct in-person or live video workouts for NBA Draft prospects but will be allowed up to four hours of virtual meetings per prospect.

    Whenever the draft happens, it will be with the least amount of research in quite a while. Teams will be without tournament game tape for college prospects and without the ability to watch live workouts. Combined with a lack of consensus on who the best players are, this could lead to a wild draft with the eventual best players going much later than usual.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter