NBA rumors: Pelicans extend qualifying offers to Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart

More on Josh Hart Free Agency


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[Impending free agent] Josh Hart, who is one of Nance’s best friends and, sources say, would like a fresh start.
Gozlan on Ball and Hart: I think both of them combined could be around $35-40 million. Right now, the Pelicans have kind of a luxury tax crunch. They’re projected to have the 10th pick after the coinflips. They’re going to be like $37 million below the tax already with that pick. If they bring them both back, they’re basically at the tax.
Since Hart was drafted by the Lakers in 2017, the 26-year-old has garnered a reputation as the ultimate "glue guy". He has played every position except for center and can start (65 games) or come off the bench as a sixth man (177 games). Hart, who suffered a season-ending thumb injury in early April, finished first in rebounds (8.0 per game) among all small forwards. At the minimum, Hart will have teams lined up with their $9.5 million midlevel exception and should see offers in the $12-13 million range. According to ProFitX, the projected high on a new contract in 2021-22 for Hart would start at $11.8 million.
Instead, his season is most likely over, and it’s time to look forward to contract talks. From everything I’ve heard, I still believe the Pels front office views him as an essential part of the team’s core moving forward, and his skill set complements the stars of the franchise — Williamson and Ingram — very well. He’s also one of the vocal leaders in the locker room, and his willingness to speak up is essential because Ingram and Williamson aren’t quite comfortable filling that role just yet.
The way things go with Ball’s contract negotiations will undoubtedly affect what happens with Hart, but I expect New Orleans to do whatever it takes to make sure their “Junkyard Dog” sticks around. His attitude, approach, and physicality are everything the Pels should be trying to establish within their culture around all the other young pieces. If another team does swoop in with a huge contract offer and steals him away, it would be a big loss on the court and in the locker room.
Matthew Moreno: Luke Walton on Josh Hart: "He's done a nice job of figuring out what the NBA game is about. I think he's another one of these guys that's going to have a big offseason. ... He's done a great job of consistently working."
Matthew Moreno: Luke Walton sees Josh Hart as much more than a '3-and-D' player. "He's one of our best finishers, he's one of our best rebounders, he can push it in transition. ... Saying he's a 3-and-D guy is limiting his potential as player," Walton said. Hart on that perception: "I think I do a lot more things than that. I can defend some of the best players, I can rebound, I can push it, make plays off the dribble and that kind of thing. I don't label myself a 3-and-D guy because I'm not going to sell myself short."
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What’s the message the veterans are giving you about the last two years? Rick Carlisle: They were disappointed with how things have gone. We’ve got to work at developing a style of play so we can maximize what we have here. Exactly what that means as far as number of wins or the playoffs, I don’t know. I’m reluctant to get into that kind of stuff, because sometimes you can set goals that are too low.
How have you evolved as a coach since you were here before? Rick Carlisle: Going from Detroit to here, they were different types of teams, and going to Dallas—the Dallas team was way different than any team I had coached before. It was much more of an outside-shooting team … so it was an amazing experience and education how to work with that kind of group. And then the game has changed an awful lot in the last 13 years, particularly in the last five. Because of the pace, the skill level, the 3-point shot, everything. In two years there, we set offensive records on points per possessions, and then this last year Brooklyn beat both. These records are going to keep falling because of the skill level.