Sacramento Kings v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – MARCH 28: Darius Miller #21 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots the ball during a game against the Sacramento Kings at Smoothie King Center on March 28, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges

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The New Orleans Pelicans have gone to great lengths to start the Zion Williamson era with a fresh approach. Unfortunately, Darius Miller suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon injury in a recent offseason workout. His surgery was successful but apparently expelling the injury bug voodoo that has afflicted the franchise for a decade is going to take more time.

The team released a statement on August 29 announcing a successful surgery in New York City. Dr. Martin O’Malley performed the procedure with New Orleans Pelicans Team Orthopedist Misty Suri of Ochsner Sports Medicine acting in a consultant capacity. Early speculation about Miller’s return varies. The release stated simply, “A timeline for Miller’s return to basketball activities will be made available at a later date.”

Miller recently signed a two-year contract for approximately $14 million. Only the 2019-20 season was guaranteed, and now he has to watch the season from the physical therapy facilities. Alvin Gentry was facing a tough decision on how to deploy the Pelicans’ shooters. The crunch on rotational minutes to go around is no more, but no one in the building is happy about the situation.

The New Orleans Pelicans playoff plans took a substantial hit. Miller was good for a dozen quality minutes per game as a top-notch shooter and adequate wing defender. Brandon Ingram and J.J. Redick could fill the role, but the team will ask more of them than was expected of Miller. Stretching Ingram and Redick into Miller’s minutes would dimish their value to the team.

Josh Hart can defend the wing. Hart shot well his rookie season but experienced a sophomore slump last year. Nicolo Melli is an unknown and Nickeil Alexander-Walker is an untested rookie. The only silver lining is the timing of the injury at least gives Gentry time to experiment with linueps in training camp.

The front office decisions could be more affected by the Miller injury than the coaching staff. Miller was signed to his deal in large part because of the trade asset his skills and contract represented. Miller can shoot, was cheap, and also an expiring deal wrapped into a nice midlevel salary. Any team holding his contract could exercise the same options for next season, which is an unguaranteed salary at the moment. Now he cannot help the Pelicans on the court and will be tougher to trade.

The NBA’s next wave of trade activity will come on December 15 and then approaching the February 6, 2020 trade deadline. All players signed to new contracts this summer cannot be traded until December at the earliest. Miller will be well into his rehab process by then but evaluation and analysis will still be limited. Convincing other teams of his health will be difficult.

The New Orleans Pelicans have other options besides trading Miller. They could now possibly qualify for a $3.625M Disabled Player Exception (DPE) if NBA doctors rule Miller is likely out for the season. However, the team has a full 15-man roster. Miller’s roster status is not affected, so the team would have to waive or trade another player to make room for a new player.

Only Jahlil Okafor and Kenrich Williams have partially guaranteed deals. Miller’s DPE exception would allow the Pelicans to bring in a $3.5 million player. Okafor and Williams make far less. David Griffin and the front office staff must decide if the added cost for a more expensive reserve player is worth losing Okafor or Williams.

Okafor and Jaxson Hayes are the only big men behind Derrick Favors. The New Orleans Pelicans lost wing depth when Miller went down with the Achilles injury. Sacrificing depth at two positions by cutting Okafor is not a logical course of action.

The team could decide not to apply for the DPE at all, opting to operate as planned while keeping tabs on Miller’s progress. His contract has the same market value next season, especially if he regains his shooting consistency quickly.

The team could also remain patient in expectation of an uneven trade. The DPE option remains open until after the All-Star Game. Trades will be completed, and the buyout market will be open for playoff contenders. March 1 marks the NBA’s playoff waiver and eligibility deadline.

The patient route is the only approach that keeps Kenrich Williams in New Orleans. Should the team want to move quickly for Joe Johnson, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford or Iman Shumpert, then Williams is the most likely roster related collateral damage from Miller’s injury.

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The New Orleans Pelicans have gone to great lengths to start the Zion Williamson era with a fresh approach. Unfortunately, Darius Miller suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon injury in a recent offseason workout. His surgery was successful but apparently expelling the injury bug voodoo that has afflicted the franchise for a decade is going to take more time.

The team released a statement on August 29 announcing a successful surgery in New York City. Dr. Martin O’Malley performed the procedure with New Orleans Pelicans Team Orthopedist Misty Suri of Ochsner Sports Medicine acting in a consultant capacity. Early speculation about Miller’s return varies. The release stated simply, “A timeline for Miller’s return to basketball activities will be made available at a later date.”

Miller recently signed a two-year contract for approximately $14 million. Only the 2019-20 season was guaranteed, and now he has to watch the season from the physical therapy facilities. Alvin Gentry was facing a tough decision on how to deploy the Pelicans’ shooters. The crunch on rotational minutes to go around is no more, but no one in the building is happy about the situation.

The New Orleans Pelicans playoff plans took a substantial hit. Miller was good for a dozen quality minutes per game as a top-notch shooter and adequate wing defender. Brandon Ingram and J.J. Redick could fill the role, but the team will ask more of them than was expected of Miller. Stretching Ingram and Redick into Miller’s minutes would dimish their value to the team.

Josh Hart can defend the wing. Hart shot well his rookie season but experienced a sophomore slump last year. Nicolo Melli is an unknown and Nickeil Alexander-Walker is an untested rookie. The only silver lining is the timing of the injury at least gives Gentry time to experiment with linueps in training camp.

The front office decisions could be more affected by the Miller injury than the coaching staff. Miller was signed to his deal in large part because of the trade asset his skills and contract represented. Miller can shoot, was cheap, and also an expiring deal wrapped into a nice midlevel salary. Any team holding his contract could exercise the same options for next season, which is an unguaranteed salary at the moment. Now he cannot help the Pelicans on the court and will be tougher to trade.

The NBA’s next wave of trade activity will come on December 15 and then approaching the February 6, 2020 trade deadline. All players signed to new contracts this summer cannot be traded until December at the earliest. Miller will be well into his rehab process by then but evaluation and analysis will still be limited. Convincing other teams of his health will be difficult.

The New Orleans Pelicans have other options besides trading Miller. They could now possibly qualify for a $3.625M Disabled Player Exception (DPE) if NBA doctors rule Miller is likely out for the season. However, the team has a full 15-man roster. Miller’s roster status is not affected, so the team would have to waive or trade another player to make room for a new player.

Only Jahlil Okafor and Kenrich Williams have partially guaranteed deals. Miller’s DPE exception would allow the Pelicans to bring in a $3.5 million player. Okafor and Williams make far less. David Griffin and the front office staff must decide if the added cost for a more expensive reserve player is worth losing Okafor or Williams.

Okafor and Jaxson Hayes are the only big men behind Derrick Favors. The New Orleans Pelicans lost wing depth when Miller went down with the Achilles injury. Sacrificing depth at two positions by cutting Okafor is not a logical course of action.

The team could decide not to apply for the DPE at all, opting to operate as planned while keeping tabs on Miller’s progress. His contract has the same market value next season, especially if he regains his shooting consistency quickly.

The team could also remain patient in expectation of an uneven trade. The DPE option remains open until after the All-Star Game. Trades will be completed, and the buyout market will be open for playoff contenders. March 1 marks the NBA’s playoff waiver and eligibility deadline.

The patient route is the only approach that keeps Kenrich Williams in New Orleans. Should the team want to move quickly for Joe Johnson, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford or Iman Shumpert, then Williams is the most likely roster related collateral damage from Miller’s injury.



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