Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Lopez has a hefty non-guaranteed contract.
From the 27-55 team of this season, there are just five contracts on the books for next year. Those contracts are Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Greivis Vasquez.
Five more players have non-guaranteed options that Demps must decide whether they get picked up. Those players include Robin Lopez ($5,119,761), Jason Smith ($2,500,000), Lance Thomas ($884,293), Brian Roberts ($788,872) and Darius Miller ($788,872), courtesy of HoopsWorld.
With some imminent changes, it is certain not all of these players will be retained. While most non-guaranteeds are easy on salary cap, that also means they’re great trade bait. The Pelicans could elect for a trade to get some compensation before electing to release them.
After a torn labrum caused Jason Smith to require surgery, he missed the final 24 games of the 2012-13 season. Before the injury, he contributed over eight points per game in 17.2 minutes per game. The 7’0” forward finished the season with 45 blocks, the second highest mark of his career.
Smith is a gamer, a hustler who has molded into a cornerstone of Monty Williams’ team-first persona. He was very efficient during his time on the floor, and his 16.8 player efficiency rating was fourth best on the team.
Smith is a bargain at $2.5 million and should be brought back if he’s healthy.
Robin Lopez will, in all likelihood, be brought back. He started all 82 games last season, averaging 26 minutes per game. He is a clog in the middle, and though his 5.6 rebounds were a career high, he’s not great on the boards. He’s slow moving and has slow reactions.
He needs to be a more consistent defender and more aggressive around the rim. At over $5 million, Lopez could be out of New Orleans, and if Demps decides to trade his big man, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Unless the Pelicans drastically change their small forward situation, expect to see Lance Thomas back in New Orleans next season. His salary—under $1 million—is very team friendly, and he didn’t perform poorly last season, he just didn’t receive many minutes. It would be foolish to let him walk for under $1 million.
The same can be said about Miller and Roberts. With minimum salaries, it would make sense to see their contracts picked up.
However, depending on who New Orleans selects in the draft, one or both of these players could be trade bait.
Since non-guaranteed contracts are cap friendly and the Pelicans will still have a payroll of just under $33.5 million, each of these contracts should be picked up. Still, look for a trade partner for Lopez, get his affordable $5.1 million off the books and move on.