The draft starts tonight, but New Orleans Pelicans fans won’t see any fireworks. The Pelicans’ first round pick when to the Chicago Bulls to bring in Nikola Mirotic, leaving New Orleans with only its second round pick, 51st overall. We have been covering potential players the Pelicans could target there, but one of the more attractive options has thus far gone uncovered.
My choice for the 51st pick averaged 0.0 points per game in college. My choice didn’t even go to college. Draft Express does not rank my choice. 0.0 rebounds per game. 0.0 assists, steals, and blocks per game. 0.0 PER. My choice does absolutely nothing for a stat sheet, and yet is one of the most traded assets in the NBA.
I’m talking, of course, about cash considerations.
Wait, come back! Twitter isn’t going anywhere. Just hear me out before going back to arguing about which future G-Leager the Pelicans should select 51st overall.
Here’s the thing: the Pelicans do not need another development project. Cheick Diallo and Frank Jackson are the long term investments in the future. G-League or no, they both will occupy a roster spot and count against the salary cap next season. Do the Pelicans really need a third guy who will, at best, contribute garbage time points in spotty, limited minutes?
Further, it has been widely reported over the years that the Pelicans were in “win now” mode since the late Tom Benson bought the team in 2012. While Mr. Benson will unfortunately not see the Pelicans win a title, New Orleans’ first second round playoff appearance in a decade whetted the appetite for wins of players, coaches, owners, and fans alike. The Pelicans are trying to “win now” harder than they have ever tried to “win now.”
The salary cap reflects it. As of right now (i.e. before the draft or free agency), New Orleans has around $100 million on the books for the 2018-19 season. That’s before re-signing key players like Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark, and sure-to-be-expensive Demarcus Cousins. That’s before attempting to see what extra wing help could be brought in. That’s before paying the 51st pick to bring donuts to practice.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Demps could send out the 51st pick for cash considerations. Is that a sexy option? Nope. Is it “giving away” an asset for nothing in return? Well, yes. Cash “considerations” does not mean cold, hard cash, but rather the possibility of cash that may or may not ever come. That may sound bad, but Demps gets some much-needed cap relief by shedding the 51st pick, even if it’s a relatively small amount. More financial wiggle room means a greater ability to bring in NBA-level talent. It means more flexibility in trades. It means a plethora of things that will bring fans far more happiness than whoever is drafted 51st overall.
So if you are keeping up with the draft news into Friday, do not be sad if you hear that New Orleans traded its second round pick for cash considerations. No, cash considerations will not hit a clutch three in a close game to rapturous applause in the Smoothie King Center. But it may get the New Orleans Pelicans one step closer to finding the guy who can.