David Griffin is out here playing chess while the rest are playing checkers.
Approximately an hour before the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Zion Williamson told New Orleans, “let’s dance,” hardcore Pelicans fans were already busting out their best dance moves because of another blockbuster move made by the New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations.
Griffin, who has done nothing but struck gold since taking over on April 17 earlier this year, traded the No. 4 pick, No. 57 pick and a future second-rounder to the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 8, No. 17, No. 35 and a heavily protected first-round pick in 2020. But what the Pelicans received in return wasn’t why New Orleans fans were celebrating. Oh no, included in the trade was Solomon Hill and his Top 10 worst contract in the NBA. Finally, the Pelicans found a suitor to dump Hill’s contract on.
So I know some of you are new to this, as the Pelicans gained many new fans on draft night last Thursday. And listen; let me be the first to welcome you aboard. Some might complain about bandwagon fans jumping on, but I say the more the merrier. Plus, it gives people like me more excuses to write about a league I still am very much passionate about.
But if you are just joining this Pelicans bandwagon, you might not understand just how terrible the Hill contract was for New Orleans. Hill, who someone told me isn’t worth a bag of potato chips the other day, was making nearly $13M a year. He was making almost $4M more than Julius Randle, who averaged 21 points per game and nine rebounds per contest a season ago.
Hill’s stats were, um, not as impressive. Hill averaged 4.3 points per game and three rebounds per contest. Again, this guy was the third-highest paid player on the Pelicans last year.
Dumping Hill’s contract frees up roughly $30M in cap space, which could be ginormous in many ways. Hopefully, it will help the Pelicans sway Randle back on the club after Randle decided not to pick up his $9M player option and tipped his toe into the free agency waters. Randle is good enough to be a starter in the league, but he, of course, would come off the bench behind Williamson in New Orleans. So even with more money, it’s likely the Pelicans aren’t able to talk Randle into a new contract with the team.
And after what I would call an extremely successful draft — the Pelicans passed up the high risk, high reward player in Cam Reddish for a rim protector in Texas center Jaxson Hayes with the No. 8 pick — the Pelicans still need scorers.
Pelicans fans would be more worried about this if New Orleans didn’t have cap space to go out and get some of those offensive-minded players this offseason.
New Orleans roster might not be built for immediate success, but the foundation is set. The Pelicans will have at least three starters that are 21 years or younger, including the next big NBA star in Williamson. New Orleans also has one of the best two-way players in the league in Jrue Holiday serving as the leader of the club. And has arguably the best defensive backcourt in all of basketball.
There’s never been a more exciting time to be a New Orleans Pelicans fan. Heck, I’ve heard enough people who supposedly hate the NBA talking about the Pels this past week to realize there hasn’t been this much buzz ever.
Hop on before the train leaves the station. This is going to be a fun few years in New Orleans.