Josh Hart, Pelicans Nearing New 3-Year, $38M Contract in 2021 Free Agency

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) against the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Saturday, March 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
Derick Hingle/Associated Press

The New Orleans Pelicans are on the verge of keeping Josh Hart beyond just the 2021-22 season.

The 26-year-old was a restricted free agent after New Orleans extended him the qualifying offer that Spotrac noted was worth $5.2 million for the upcoming campaign. The team offered more than that, though, and the two sides are nearing an agreement on a three-year, $38 million contract, agents Aaron Mintz, Steven Heumann and Dave Spahn told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Deal is expected to be finalized soon, per agents.

To this point of his career, the Villanova product has not quite lived up to expectations as a 2017 first-round pick. The 6'5" wing played his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and averaged 7.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while failing to make the playoffs.

The Lakers included Hart in a trade package for Anthony Davis and proceeded to win the championship during the 2019-20 season while the guard played for the Pelicans.

The Maryland native averaged a career-best 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during his first season with New Orleans and appeared to turn the corner as a primary contributor. He put up similar numbers in 2020-21 at 9.2 points and 8.0 boards while playing a career-high 28.7 minutes per night.

His emergence as a rebounding force off the bench made him all the more valuable, and the Pelicans clearly believe he can be an important part of their team in 2021-22 and beyond.

While Hart can make strides as a three-point shooter (34.8 percent in his career), he is a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions and is still young. 

The next step is making the playoffs for the first time in his career.

If he continues contributing in multiple ways and takes another step as an outside shooter, Hart can help the 2021-22 Pelicans make the postseason as a secondary playmaker around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.