For the New Orleans Pelicans, one or two good signings this summer can move them up the ranks in the Western Conference. Conversely, making bad choices with their significant cap space could hinder the team's bright future.
That is why it is imperative that the team makes wise decisions in adding to its young core and avoids any reckless mistakes. With just under $35 million in salary committed for next year, the Pelicans can be real players in the free agent market this offseason.
Last summer, general manager Dell Demps batted .500 in his efforts to rebuild the franchise. He saved the team a ton of money by unloading the contracts of Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor to Washington for Rashard Lewis (who was bought out).
Demps also made a couple savvy moves to steal Robin Lopez away from Phoenix to be the team's starting center, and he signed one of the game's best reserves in forward Ryan Anderson.
Demps isn't without his faults, though. His decision to match Phoenix's four-year, $58 million offer to shooting guard Eric Gordon was an act of desperation that may come back to haunt him. He also may have swung and missed on last year's No. 10 overall pick, Austin Rivers.
This year, Demps has plenty of needs and plenty of money to fill them. Between the draft and free agency, the team must walk into next season with a new starting small forward, as well as upgrades at point guard and center.
New Orleans got a bad draw at the NBA draft lottery, selecting sixth in what appears to be a very weak draft. Hopefully a player like Georgetown's Otto Porter or Indiana's Victor Oladipo slides down to the Pelicans.
As for the open market, the team has some options at point guard in the form of Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings and Hawks restricted free agent Jeff Teague. There are also plenty of talented big men, like Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic and Utah's Al Jefferson.
Signing any combination of those four men would be a huge boost for the franchise. However, there are some players the team should steer clear of.
A few things you should know before you proceed. There aren't going to be a ton of big names on this list.
Why, you ask? Because the Pelicans could use any of the marquee free agents. Even Atlanta's Josh Smith would be a nice addition, despite the fact he plays a position currently commandeered by franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis.
You also won't find any of New Orleans' own free agents on here, despite the fact I believe the team should avoid Al-Farouq Aminu at all costs.
All of the guys you will read about fit the team's particular needs but, for reasons you will soon be made aware of, aren't the wisest moves for Demps and company to make.