Which 2017 Free Agents Should the Pelicans Keep an Eye On?

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Feb 2, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) drives past Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Priority #3: Paul Millsap

Paul Millsap might be the perfect front-court partner for Anthony Davis.

For the past few years, the Pelicans have had to choose whether they wanted to surround Davis with someone who makes them better defensively (Asik), or someone who can space the floor and help AD on offense (Anderson).

Paul Millsap can contribute on both the offensive and defensive ends, in addition to bringing versatility, rebounding, passing, and a remarkably high basketball IQ.

Last season Millsap averaged 18.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes. He shot 51% on his two pointers and 31% on his threes, but he shot better than 35% from three the two years prior so it’s safe to say that last season was just a minor slump.

Adding him to the Pelicans would instantly make him and AD the most dangerous and dynamic big man combo in the entire league. Both could shoot from deep, both could drive, Millsap could pass, AD could dunk, and both would be fantastic on the defensive end while switching in the pick and roll.

The only downside is that Millsap just turned 31. The Pelicans would be signing him at 32, probably to a 3 year deal so he fits the same cycle as Hill, Moore, and AD.

That isn’t great news, but it also isn’t the end of the world. Millsap has been remarkably healthy the past few years playing 81, 73, 74, and 78 games in his past four seasons. Additionally, he doesn’t rely on athleticism so much that he would decline during his three year deal. His IQ, shooting ability, passing ability, and defense would make him an elite payer, even as his scoring numbers take a slight dip.

Millsap is a top 15-20 player and he is going to get a max contract from someone. For the Pelicans to be competitive in signing him they need to make a little over 35 million dollars in cap room (Millsap is a 10+ year vet, so he’d get a 35% max deal on a 102-108 estimated cap).

The Pelicans could keep AD (24), Jrue (16 cap hold), Buddy (3), Hill (11), Frazier (2), Moore (8), and Quincy (3) and just about hit the 102-108 estimated 2017 salary cap. After that they could spend their MLE on a backup big man, but the rest would likely be minimum players. That gives the Pelicans an elite 7-8 man rotation with a quality drop once you hit the 9th man.

Dell would need to work some magic to increase the Pelicans depth, but a Jrue-Buddy-Hill-Millsap-Davis starting lineup would be too good to pass up.

Next: Free Agent #4: Block Party