Operation Get Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler to the Big Easy

Two friends are looking to team up. One team has the cap space and a super duper star to accommodate them. It's time for championship aspirations in NOLA.

The Pelicans lost Demarcus Cousins. It's a huge blow to their current standing. But they're still a playoff team for the time being, which is good enough to hold everyone over for a year until the real fun begins. Because you see, Demarcus Cousins leaving (though potentially catastrophic) gives the Pelicans a huge advantage in the upcoming years. They're going to have max cap space for the first time ever. 

While capped out for the current season, the Pelicans have quite a few expiring contracts. Alexis Ajinca's $5.2 million will finally be coming off of the books. Nikola Mirotic's $12.5 million contract comes to an end after this season. Darius Miller and Cheick Diallo's near minimum contracts come off the books, and Emeka Okafor and Deandre Liggins will be expiring after the season (if they even make it onto the team without being waived). New signings Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle will also be expiring contracts, though Randle will need to decline his 2019-2020 player option for that to be the case. 

If the Pelicans are to renounce all their cap holds for these players, they will have a salary of only $76,766,359 in a season where the projected salary cap is going to be $108 million. That will give the Pelicans $31,233,641 in open cap space to make a signing. But here is where it gets even more interesting. By next offseason, the contracts of Solomon Hill ($13.2 million) and E'twaun Moore ($8.6 million) will be expirings. With both being serviceable players on not too extreme salary amounts, as well as expirings, those contracts will be incredibly moveable. Plenty of tanking teams would take those contracts in exchange for a draft pick, and potentially some playoff teams with open cap space would want more role players to move them closer to contender status. 

If both Solomon Hill and E'twaun Moore are moved off of the books next offseason that will leave the Pelicans with an open cap space of $53,157,350. They would have only 3 players under contract at that point (Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Frank Jackson). 

So with rumors that Jimmy Butler is fed up with Minnesota, and rumors that he wants to team up with Kyrie Irving, whiy not dream about them coming to New Orleans to form a super team with Anthony Davis?

Both players have the option to opt out into free agency in the 19-20 offseason next year, allowing them to choose where they want to join forces together. And not many teams will have the space to join the two players together. But the Pelicans will. 

It all depends on how serious the players are about playing together. The Pelicans will not be able to give both the full max of $30-35 million per year. But few other teamsd will be able to do that either, and only the tanking ones (Nets, Bulls, Hawks, Kings are the only other teams with the able to open up this much cap space without massive roster changes). If both players were will to take a slight pay cut down to $25 million each, then they would be able to play together as well as join an immediate contender. 

So let's hope the Pelicans front office has a plan in place for this situation, and that Kyrie and Jimmy Butler play it safe. 

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