I wanted to play around with the idea of taking a hard line on Boogie. Before free agency started, the Boogie conundrum seemed a bit simpler, keep him or let him go. Now obviously it looks like he’s more than likely to stay on a favorable deal (for the Pellies, not Boogie sadly), after Deandre Jordan took the Mavs space and the Lakers looking like they went in another direction.
After perhaps the most exciting year for the Pelicans in franchise history, there are definitely some questions heading into next year. Mainly, the questions revolve around how they will build on this past years success. But there is no bigger question than what will the Pelicans do with the Boogie “problem”. Well I’m here to give you the definitive answer to that question:
The Pels should look to move on from Boogie, through whatever means. I’ll repeat that one more time, for the people in the back
THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS SHOULD LET BOOGIE WALK NEXT SEASON
If there was a weak side to letting Boogie go, it’s this portion of the argument. However, I would argue that because of the nature of Boogie’s injury, it needs to be viewed with more of a hardline approach. Boogie will almost certainly never be the same. That talent gap between him and a healthy Mirotic+other big while not erased, is a lot closer than it was. Yes, maybe Cousins could replicate most of his game, but you’ve taken an elite offensive big and effectively hobbled him. Not to mention that his defense will be even worse than it was. When talking about replicating or replacing Boogie’s game though, the Pels have largely already taken care of that with Mirotic being brought in. He gives you some of that production lost, aleit in a different way entirely and realistically only costs you future salary earned now.
Even without Mirotic, the talent that you can afford to bring in via free agency or trade exceptions is exponentially better than the talent that would have to be brought on with minimum deals if Boogie signed a bigger deal with the Pels. With more of an eye to next season, the Pels could bring back Rondo and try to find more of a natural wing to be a solid 5th starter. Arguably a capable wing with Rondo, Jrue, Mirotic and AD hits a better and different ceiling, than that core with Boogie, in a more modern playstyle like Alvin Gentry’s.
Ideally, I think a sign and trade of Boogie gives the Pels the most bang for their buck. Whether it’s the Wizards trying to pair Boogie with John Wall and Brad Beal or another team that wants to take Boogie. It makes sense to allow another team to take the risk on him and even more sense for that team to pay the Pels to do so.
While Mirotic isn’t quite the level of Boogie, perhaps even more importantly, not bringing DMC back affords you more options to improve on spots 4-10 in the rotation over the next two off seasons. All most likely without hardcapping or taxing the team in the future. The Pels would lose this flexibility with even a less than max contract going to DMC. Realistically, most small market teams, like New Orleans won’t go into the tax, and while normally I’d be against that idea (“Scared money don’t make none” A Tribe Called Quest via Sam Presti), I understand that the Boogie risk might simply be too great to take the chance, especially given the past chances already taken.
And let’s say it goes south. Boogie isn’t as good, or perhaps even worse has a setback. The Pels have seen what it’s like being saddled with smaller/mid-level untradeable deals in Omer and Ajinca. The problems would be even worse being saddled with a near max for an unplayable Boogie. The potential risks just don’t make sense, especially given the potential for the team with how they finished last season.
Say what you will about the team not being able to repeat last year’s success, but the fact of the matter is they showed more pushing the pace without Boogie. AD was finally pressed into being the main center, something plenty of fans and media have been calling for. Even if the team doesn’t play at the same breakneck speed, some of the core pieces just seemed to work better. There was more space to operate. Mirotic, while prone to running out of gas late in games, could never really be called out for giving up on plays like Boogie has been. And that can only be improved on this season. Mirotic with the team in training camp, actually being able to practice some offense centered the new big man duo that was so successful at the end of the season up until running into the eventual champions.
All in all, looking at the overarching situation of Boogie never being the same, it just makes more sense to let him walk away whether through a straight release or a sign and trade to get the Pels more pieces.