With free agency starting to heat up, teams will be scrambling to improve every hole in their lineup. One of these teams is the New Orleans Pelicans, and with the news that point guard Brian Roberts was made an unrestricted free agent, finding a new backup point guard is on their radar.
One of the potential targets, according to NBA insider David Aldridge, is former Orlando Magic starter Jameer Nelson, who was recently waived by Orlando:
Pelicans among the many teams that have inquired about Jameer Nelson since his release. But he’s in holding pattern like almost everyone.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 3, 2014
Nelson, a 10-year NBA veteran, is one of the better backup point guards you’ll find this summer, and he could be acquired on the cheap if New Orleans acts fast. Last season with New Orleans, Brian Roberts averaged 9.4 points along with 3.3 assists per game, being their primary backup to the oft-injured yet talented Jrue Holiday.
With Roberts likely going elsewhere, and the possibility of Austin Rivers being moved as well, there is going to be a noticeable hole at the point guard spot.
You fill that hole with Jameer Nelson, and suddenly New Orleans gains both a talented player who is still producing despite being 32 years of age. In 2013-14 with the Magic, Nelson was able to put up 12.1 points per game, along with 7.0 assists per game.
While he isn’t as efficient of a scorer as he was before (.394 shooting percentage) he countered with an improving passing game, being one of the best dime-droppers in the league for the lowly Magic.
New Orleans ranked 19th in assists per game last season, which makes sense when you consider that they ran most of their plays through Anthony Davis. Nonetheless, it’s a stat that desperately needs to rise, and having both Holiday and Nelson in the lineup could do just that.
As of right now, New Orleans would have enough cap space to sign Nelson. Trading players like Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, or Ryan Anderson (all rumored to be in trade talks) could clear up even more space for the Pelicans.
Looking at what Nelson could be looking for in a deal, you could take a look at Darren Collison‘s with Sacramento–a three-year, fully guaranteed $15 million deal. Collison, 26, averaged 11.4 points and 3.7 assists for the Los Angeles Clippers.
While his stats weren’t as nice as Nelson’s, he is younger. Balancing both of those factors out, Jameer could be looking at a very similar deal for whichever team chooses to sign him.
In most cases, his age could hurt Nelson, but here it could actually help him. New Orleans is a relatively young team, led by young stars like Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans to an extent. Bringing in Nelson not only adds a valuable backup point guard, but a veteran presence, something a team would direly need to compete in the overwhelmingly competitive Western Conference.
Of, course, it’s unclear how serious the Pelicans are about pursuing Nelson, but it’s hard to argue with how perfect of a fit he would be for the boys down in NOLA.