New Orleans Pelicans will have multiple options after landing 8th The No. 1 lottery pick in the NBA draft. For now, the Pelicans have three (8th, 41st)stone52nd) in the 2022 draft, but now only has roster space for the No. 8 pick. Still, the Pelicans have the ability to be creative to get their top prospects.
8 cover fixedth The total draft picks for next season are about $5.4 million. Now that the draft order is in place and the cap is in place, New Orleans’ luxury tax threshold is only $2.4 million lower. Unless a league-changing deal is made for another All-Star, the Pelicans will continue to pay taxes and retain the full $10.3 million mid-level exception.
Kira Lewis Jr. is an original and largely unknown commodity. Devonte’ Graham and Jaxson Hayes are well-known commodities and may have to accept reduced roles next year. Trading Kira Lewis Jr., Devonte’ Graham or Jaxson Hayes and the No. 8 pick is an option that could bring in young talent while creating financial and roster flexibility.
Hayes is eligible for an extension, and Graham should pay $11.5 million. Hayes and Graham plus future draft picks could be used to grab players that management believes could really change the status quo over the next decade. There’s no need to force a draft pick, Hayes or Graham to go wrong. If the Pelicans hold out or can’t find a trade partner, AJ Griffin, Jeremy Sochan and/or Bennedict Mathurin should be available.
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This draft does provide a rare opportunity for a playoff team. The Pelicans aren’t going to get lucky in the lottery every offseason. Regardless of future draft pick exchanges and selections, this may be the best chance to add a top-four player before the team pays the luxury tax. Even if the Pelicans return in the draft, they should be able to grab Ousmane Dieng, Johnny Davis or Dyson Daniels.
Moving up a few spots for Shadeon Sharpe and Jaden Ivey would be worthwhile for David Griffin. Trading a top-3 pick for Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero or Jabari Smith would deplete a stockpile of future draft assets. Those three will cost almost twice as much as the No. 8 pick next season.
With the Pelicans retaining the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2022 draft pick, the Memphis Grizzlies acquired Cleveland’s 2022 second-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick from New Orleans to complete Jonas Valanciu Nas’ transaction. With the deal, New Orleans can now sell one of its remaining 2022 second-round picks for a few million cash and still have prospects overseas.
With a draft pick swap option with the Lakers in 2023, New Orleans could also return in the draft. Stockpiling more draft picks for cost-controllable talent is a financially prudent way to explore. Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram lead a team expected to return to most of the lineup with just one ball and so many minutes.
The Pelicans did a great job finding high-quality players outside the lottery. Nagy Marshall and Jose Alvarado were among the undrafted free agents. However, the Pelicans can’t continue to count on lottery luck and other teams that ignore rotation gems.
New Orleans is looking forward to a quiet, quiet summer, but needs to add another playoff-caliber player to the roster. The best way to do this and retain control of future assets may just be to stay at No. 8. Getting creative could propel the Pelicans to the upper echelon of playoff contenders. Being too creative can limit future actions and affect team chemistry.
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