The New Orleans Pelicans aren’t sure what to do with Robin Lopez, but if they do release him in the next couple of days to avoid the next two years of his contract, the Indiana Pacers and the Portland Trail Blazers would love to add him.
The Pelicans have until July 5 to let go of their starting center by paying him only $500,000, avoiding giving him a total of $10.5 million for the next two seasons. If they do not buy him out, those two seasons become guaranteed. In order to create the cap space needed for the Tyreke Evans deal ($44 million, 4 years), Lopez will either be released or traded.
Lopez did average 11.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, but even without anyone likely to fill his position (unless Ryan Anderson becomes a starter and Anthony Davis moves to center), the Pelicans aren’t sure they want to keep his so-so production on the payroll.
According to Yahoo, both the Pacers and the Blazers are watching the situation closely, hoping to get their hands on the less successful of the Lopez twins, each with a different role in mind.
Lopez isn’t good enough to be a starter on most NBA teams, and certainly not for the Pacers who have Roy Hibbert starting for them. Lopez would fit quite well in Indiana in terms of his role, which would be upgrading the big-man position off the bench for Indiana, with Tyler Hasnbrough on his way out and Ian Mahinmi not providing too much of offense or defense in the few minutes he spends on the court each game.
For the Blazrers, Lopez would probably have a bigger role to play, as Portland are looking for a starting center after J.J. Hickson ran out his contract and probably won’t be coming back. The Blazers have rookie Jeff Withey and second year player Meyes Leonard, but both aren’t ready to start at the moment, and Lopez, with all of his limitations, would be an upgrade at the starting position.
Still, it’s not that likely the Pelicans let him go. The recent moves have limited their cap space, and there aren’t better options at center on the market. Unless they’re after some positional changes up front, most chances are Lopez stays in New Orleans, while Indiana and Portland look for another player to meet their needs.