Free Agency Grades: New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are one of the many teams loaded with talent that will get to participate in the dogfight that is the Western Conference. While they did make several notable changes this offseason, not much of it was via free agency.
Here are the signings the Pelicans made and how each player fits in New Orleans:
Brandon Ingram re-signs for 5 years, $158 million
At 23, Ingram is a flashy scorer that made his first All-Star team last season. He’s a foundational piece for a young Pelicans team and as much talk as there is about Zion Williamson, there may not be enough chatter about these two as a dynamic duo.
Brandon got his bag this offseason and there was no doubt that he would. Maybe he could have taken the qualifying offer for one season and had a chance to go elsewhere next year but he doesn’t seem like that dude. This is as much his team as it is Zion’s and as he continues his rise to stardom, he deserves every dollar if healthy.
Anthony Davis left for the Lakers and BI was the main piece in return. He rose to the challenge as he became an All-Star last season and scored over 23 points per game. The Pelicans weren’t going to risk losing him too and gave him his green.
Sindarius Thornwell re-signs for one year at vet minimum
What the Pelicans saw in 35 total minutes last season must have made them want more. He does have some talent and has shown flashes in limited minutes.
For the minimum, this is a good gamble. He had a 16-4-4-1-1 line in his 35 minutes with the team last season. Why not bring him back cheap to see if he can do more.
This is by no means a shiny coin in a spending frenzy offseason but if he can carve a role for himself with what’s just been potential at this point, this is a solid move.
Willy Hernangomez signs for one year at veteran minimum
Willy provides depth at center for New Orleans. They traded for Steven Adams after losing Derrick Favors but they still have Jaxson Hayes as well. He likely won’t play much but isn’t bad with spot minutes. Maybe he can learn something from Adams.
I can’t give a low grade for a minimum deal even if it’s not a bold signing. Again, he provides depth in the frontcourt so…eh.
He’s shown some signs but hasn’t been able to find consistent minutes. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to do that here either but taking a chance and letting Adams rub off on him isn’t the worst thing you can do.
Wenyen Gabriel signs for one year at veteran minimum
There might not be playing time for him unless he can put it together and take them from Nicolo Melli. He is an athletic forward with shooting potential so that’s not out of reach.
Again, it’s a minimum deal for one year. Why not?
At the worst, he doesn’t play much. However, he could become a rotational piece if he continues to hone in on his athleticism and work on that shooting touch and defense.