While all the talk has focused on LeBron James staying in Cleveland or heading to Los Angeles or Philadelphia, it’s safe to say another team could swoop in and pull off the impossible. This is where the New Orleans Pelicans come into play.
While the Pelicans definitely have contract issues of their own regarding DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron can still become a factor for 2018.
For a deal like this to happen, it will take a sacrifice from not only LeBron but Cousins and Rajon Rondo as well. With big-name players set to hit the free agent market in 2018, Anthony Davis becomes the catalyst to make this happen. Davis can make a pitch to LeBron that he’s the missing piece to bringing a title to New Orleans. If LeBron agrees, then convincing Cousins and Rondo becomes as easy as making eye contact.
If all parties can agree on years, then money will be the real sacrifice. LeBron has set himself up to command at least $35-plus million in 2018, while Cousins will find himself set to earn close to $25 million. Rondo, however, will be the cheapest of the crew with a deal around $3 million per. Anthony is still on the books for $25 million, and Jrue Holiday will cost the Pelicans an additional $26 million.
The projected salary for the Pelicans starting lineup could cost the Pelicans roughly $114 million. However, this is where a championship must outweigh bank accounts. LeBron has done it before and can afford to take a pay cut. Cousins is still young and can get his money in 2019. Rondo’s big paydays could be behind him, but if winning is his goal, then he might be willing to take whatever crumbs are left on the table.
— The Source Magazine (@TheSource) December 8, 2017
By LeBron taking a one-year deal for $20 million and Cousins doing the same, that could knock their cap down to around $94 million for the starting unit. However, the Pelicans will still need to make a few adjustments regarding their bench. While the Pelicans will have a few contracts off their books, there are at least two contracts they must trade. Solomon Hill is set to make $12 million next season, and Omer Asik is scheduled to make $10.5 million. The Pelicans goal is to stay under the proposed $130 million luxury tax bill. It will be wise to trade Hill and Asik for a few productive, cheaper bench players.
Can the Pelicans pull this off? Maybe, but a deal like this will take every player being on the same page. LeBron, Cousins, Davis, and Rondo must know that this is a one-year shot. Either they win it all in 2018 or leave with their heads between their tails.
According to Bleacher Report, there is a list of teams that LeBron is linked to, but the Pelicans are nowhere involved. The Pelicans are one of those teams that can come in and surprise everyone much like the Thunder did this season when they snagged Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. While the rest of the world is thinking Los Angeles Lakers or Philadelphia 76ers, it could be the Pelicans that LeBron chooses.