Free Agents the New Orleans Pelicans Should Sign This Summer
There is going to be a makeover for the New Orleans Pelicans. The name change aside, New Orleans is faced with five unrestricted free agents this offseason.
The Pelicans are in the market to sign some players, and the need is clear: veterans. A core filled with sub-25-year-old players, adding an established veteran presence is an absolute priority.
As the summer is quickly approaching, which free agents fit the Pelicans’ system?
Devin Harris has played on three teams in the past three seasons. Looking to settle down, the Pelicans could be the perfect fit.
Brian Roberts has a non-guaranteed contract, and if he ends up walking, there will be a vacancy at the backup point guard position.
Harris has started and come off the bench throughout his career, posting solid numbers no matter his role. He can shoot and he can pass. Harris drives to the rim with ease, and gets to the foul line a considerable amount.
His defense is mediocre, as he is known to try and take charges more than actually defend. However, his quickness allows him to get to the spot and contest shots, something the Pelicans' defenders weren't doing last season.
The 6’3” point guard can run the offense when Greivis Vasquez needs a rest and can play the 2 if need be. He is an established veteran who likely won’t be getting a starting role in the NBA.
The Pelicans will be looking for a worthy backup facilitator, and Harris can fill that role.
The position that needs to be addressed the most is small forward. The production out of the 3 has been subpar for the Pelicans.
Andre Iguodala would be an immediate upgrade and could help mold the identity of the team. He has been arguably the best perimeter defender in the league this season, and New Orleans has struggled to defend the perimeter, surrendering too many open looks.
Free agent Al-Farouq Aminu was a solid defender with his length, but his offense lagged behind most of the small forwards in the league. Aminu averaged 7.3 points per game, compared with Iguodala’s 13 points per game.
Iguodala will be entering his 10th season in the league and would help mentor this young Pelicans team. He’s mostly played shooting guard for the Nuggets, but played small forward for the Philadelphia 76ers.
He is a scorer, a rebounder, a defender and a solid passer. He's averaged more than 12 points, five assists and five rebounds in each of the past five seasons.
The all-around athleticism will spark the energy of the team, and the Pelicans should look to sign Iguodala once free agency begins.
While power forward isn’t a glaring need, David West is familiar with the system of Monty Williams. Playing under him in 2010-11, West played a major role on that Hornets team.
Recently, Williams told John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
We don’t want to bring in veterans for veterans' sake. We want to bring in the right guys that’s maybe familiar with our system or guys that I may have a relationship with that may want to do it.
West would also bring veteran leadership, with an ability to play both the 4 and the 5. In an ideal situation, Anthony Davis would play center, with West at power forward and Ryan Anderson continuing to be a sixth man.
West is a scoring threat from mid-range and possesses the ability to handle the ball rather well. He had a 54.5 true shooting percentage and a 20.15 player efficiency rating last season, per Hollinger stats (Insider access required).
At 32 years old, West is still producing at a high level, and with the Pelicans, he would be a locker room presence, helping to give the team a winning mentality. He was a staple product in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 playoffs for New Orleans and will focus on bringing a winning team back to the Big Easy.
They’re not far away from contending, and West would be a major step in the right direction.
In an effort to upgrade the bench, the Pelicans should look to sign shooting guard J.J. Redick.
Redick would bring a dynamic three-point shot with a great ability to draw fouls on a head fake. He is more of a catch-and-shoot-type player, as he struggles off the dribble, but he can drain a shot from all areas of the court.
He would back up Eric Gordon, and would allow Austin Rivers to shift back to point guard. While Redick is a shooting guard, he plays like a point with his excellent pick-and-roll play.
With Anthony Davis and Robin Lopez on the roster, Redick could thrive in the pick-and-roll with his entry passes. This past season, with both the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks, Redick had five assists per 40 minutes, utilizing the pick-and-roll.
He’s spent time with Ryan Anderson in Orlando, and the two have played well on the court during their three years together. Some familiarity may lead him to New Orleans, and if that happens, the rap group James Clay can start up again.
His defense isn’t great, but he has lateral quickness to get to the spot. With his explosive offense, he doesn't need to rely on defense.
The Pelicans need depth, and an addition of Redick will make the Pelicans a dangerous shooting team. Gordon, Anderson, Rivers and Redick would give this team a variety of shooters who can come in and shift momentum with their scoring abilities.
It’s a long shot, but with Redick’s familiarity with Anderson, he should be worth a look.
If the Pelicans can’t sign Iguodala, then Shawn Marion is a veteran that could have an impact on New Orleans.
Say, for instance, the Pelicans draft Otto Porter or a different small forward, the 34-year-old Marion could be a mentor for the young forwards.
I keep waiting for Marion’s numbers to decline, but the fact is, he’s been consistent his entire career.
He is clearly past his prime, as his best seasons were with Phoenix from 2001-2007, but Marion is still getting it done on both ends of the court.
After a dismal 2011-12 season, Marion came back strong this past year, posting an 18.02 player efficiency rating, his highest since 2007.
He doesn’t take low-percentage shots and has a remarkable short-range jump shot. The 6’7” Marion has played both forward positions and has shifted to center at times during his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks.
With his ability to produce at multiple positions and rebound at a high clip (14.5 rebound rate this past season), he could be the player the Pelicans are looking for.
New Orleans has always been an attractive place to play, and players see the direction this team is headed. A player on the back-end of his career, Marion could look to start fresh and find a new home.
It would be worth it for Williams and general manager Dell Demps to look at Marion come summer.