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NBA free agency: The Pelicans’ confusing offseason and the winding path that led them here

CBS Sports


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Heading into free agency that summer, they had $31 million in cap space and Zion Williamson, Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Christian Wood, Kenrich Williams, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes on the roster, plus two future first-round picks and a first-round pick swap from the Lakers and a potential first-round pick from the Atlanta Hawks. The 2019 spending spree: In an attempt to be competitive right away, the Pelicans signed JJ Redick, traded two second-round picks for Derrick Favors and imported Nicolo Melli from Fenerbahçe. The value of those picks decreased the moment that Giannis Antetokounmpo signed his extension and the whole thing would look much better in retrospect if New Orleans hadn’t given up Williams and a first-round pick and rerouted George Hill to Oklahoma City for the privilege of giving Steven Adams a two-year, $35 million extension. The Redick trade: Simultaneously infamous and inconsequential, the trade that sent Redick and Melli to the Dallas Mavericks at the 2021 trade deadline netted New Orleans Wes Iwundu, the expiring contract of James Johnson and what turned out to be the No. 53 pick in this year’s draft.

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