New Orleans Pelicans 2023-24 Offseason Preview


(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Pelicans are entering the 2023 offseason with nearly a full roster for the second year in a row. They have 14 players under contract, including their first-round pick for this year, and are projected to be right at the $162 million luxury tax line. Their sole addition to a standard contract last season was the drafting and signing of Dyson Daniels, and it’s possible they have a similarly quiet summer.

The 2023-24 season could be the last one in which the Pelicans are able to stay under the luxury tax with this core. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum are all set to earn between $33-36 million over the next two seasons, taking up a substantial percentage of their space below the tax. Herb Jones will be the next player due for a significant raise. His next contract, as well as a potential new contract for Jonas Valanciunas or a different starting center, could push the Pelicans over the tax starting in 2024-25.

It would make sense for New Orleans to avoid the luxury tax for one more season in order to delay the repeater tax. And they have the luxury of doing that considering they already have their rotation nearly set for next season. The one move we can expect to see is the Pelicans waiving Garrett Temple, whose $5.4 million salary is non-guaranteed. This would give the Pelicans a little over $5 million in space below the tax, enough room to fill out their last two roster spots.

The Pelicans are in an advantageous situation heading into the new CBA. The addition of the second apron will restrict teams above it from increasing their payroll other than re-signing their own players, signing draft picks, and minimum players. With their payroll already hovering around the tax and with more players due for new contracts soon, they could be in a position to have a payroll above the second apron soon.

Fortunately for them, they’re already loaded with talented young players on rookie contracts like Jones, Trey Murphy III, and Jose Alvarado, giving them enough depth to operate within the second apron restrictions. And if they need to reshuffle the deck, they have all their own draft picks as well as two additional ones owed from other teams. This gives them plenty of opportunities to replenish their roster, which could help extend their competitive window. They just need to make the commitment to spend.

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