Pelicans Rumors: Stanley Johnson's Qualifying Offer Declined, Will Become UFA

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2019

New Orleans Pelicans forward Stanley Johnson (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The New Orleans Pelicans will not extend a qualifying offer to forward Stanley Johnson, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the news, noting Johnson will have "several" interested teams on the open market. The move is designed to open more cap space for the Pelicans, who have around $28 million to spend on free agents.

Johnson, 23, was traded to the Pelicans from the Detroit Pistons at the deadline. He averaged 5.3 points and 2.3 rebounds on 41.8 percent shooting in 18 games with New Orleans. The eighth pick in the 2015 draft, Johnson has struggled to make an impact in his NBA career, particularly due to a lack of development as a shooter.

Among players who have played at least 100 games over the last four seasons, Johnson's 37.4 field-goal percentage is the ninth worst, per Basketball Reference. There has also been next to no development, with Johnson shooting under 40 percent overall in each of his first four seasons.

That said, Johnson is a big body who has strong lateral-movement abilities and has flashed an ability to defend multiple positions. He's still young, and even if he never develops into a star, he's essentially a corner three away from being a good rotation piece.

A smart team with a good developmental arm will find a way to take Johnson under its wing on a low-cost deal and hope to strike gold with a rotation player.