Beyond The Mic: 3 Most Important Issues Pelicans Face This Offseason
The Pelicans offseason has officially begun, raising the debate on what must be done to improve moving forward.
Avoiding the obivous "get better" and "get healthy as a team", here are the three most important offseason issues facing the Pelicans for the next three months.
Issue #3 - Re-sign Omer Asik
Of the three, this one will be the least universal among Pelican fans.
Omer Asik came to the New Orleans Pelicans last offseason in a trade with the Houston Rockets in exchange for the 2015 protected first round pick (which is now officially 18th overall).
Asik had one year left on his deal, and can now test the free agency waters. Will New Orleans bring him back? Their head coach would like to.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams met with the media this morning, revealing his feelings on Asik and his future with the franchise.
'He was really good at guarding and blocking shots and it makes our defense that much better," said Williams of Asik. "Early on, it didn't look like it and I'll be the first to admit that. But it takes time to figure out schemes."
Asik didn't have a great playoff series against Golden State, a poor matchup for Asik's skillset.
A solid defender, Asik played a big part in the Pelicans success post All-Star break, as his numbers indicate (26.2 mpg, 55% FG, 7.9 pts, 9.8 rebs, 114 offensive rating, 102 defensive rating). The Pelicans were 5.9 points better than the opposition per game when Asik was on the floor. Again, these are his numbers after the All-Star break, highlighting Williams point about taking time to learn a system.
''As far as Omer, he's a huge part of what we do,'' Williams went on to say. ''If you look at our defensive numbers from last year to this year, we improved in a number of categories and Omer was a huge part of that."
If that wasn't enough to convince anyone of how Williams felt about Asik's future with the franchise, he made it crystal clear before the end of the press conference.
''But Omer certainly added great value to our team, not just as a defender but his IQ as he got more comfortable with me, we began to talk more I think that's when you started seeing our defense get a lot better. So he's highly valued by this organization and that he's an asset to this city.''
Unless the Pelicans can sign DeAndre Jordan or Marc Gasol (they can't, both will be out of their price range), Asik is the most realistic option.
While his offense is weak, an offensive minded center would take away touches from Anthony Davis, something we can all agree is a bad move.
Plus, Asik's return highlights general manager Dell Demps point about continuity being the most important things in the NBA, and keeping a core together is key to winning in the league.
Issue #2 - Jrue Holiday's Health
In addition to re-signing Asik, Williams stressed the importance of Jrue Holiday improving the health of his leg. Holiday fractured his tibia last season, then missed 40+ games this season with a stress reaction in the same spot.
"I'm going to have to get my leg to calm down a lot more before I can start doing anything on the court," said Holiday on Monday. "I'm going to talk to the doctor soon. Obviously, that's my first priority...It's going to take time. There's things I need to strengthen and find out."
This lingering issue of Holiday's leg is worrisome. Holiday missed 4 games in 3 seasons in Philly. He's missed more than half his games in two seasons in New Orleans, all with the same injury.
Moving forward, this former All-Star is definitely part of the core Williams and Demps reference when they speak about the future. In many ways, the future health of this franchise the next few years is tied to the health of Holiday.
If continuity is key, having one of your best players on the court is the only way to make it happen.
Issue #1 - Sign Anthony Davis To His Extension
This doesn't need much of an explanation. Davis is one of the best players on the planet. He's the unquestioned face and future of not only the Pelicans franchise, but of the NBA.
Keeping Davis in a Pelicans uniform was, is, and will continue to be priority #1 for New Orleans.
In the least shocking news of the day, ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Pelicans will offer Davis a maximum contract this summer. A five-year deal that could exceed $140 million. In short, the most possible money the Pelicans can throw at Davis, they will.
It could potentially change slightly once the 2016-17 is established, but the bottom line is, it'll be more money than any other team can offer him.
Kyrie Irving signed a similar extension last summer with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that was 10 days before the announcement that LeBron James would return.
While Davis isn't set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, locking him up for the next 5 years avoids the situation for awhile, giving the Pelicans time to continue building a contender around their franchise player.