The New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets recently came together on a massive, four-team trade headlined by Jrue Holiday making his way to the Bucks. As part of that transaction, Steven Adams moved from Oklahoma City to New Orleans, fortifying the Pelicans’ frontcourt and leaving the only team he has ever played for in the NBA. On Monday evening, things got even more interesting, as Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN report that Adams has agreed to a two-year contract extension that will guarantee him $35 million additional dollars through the 2022-23 season.
The Pelicans used a lottery-protected 2023 pick to acquire Adams, which was certainly a lofty price to land a player on a $27.5 million expiring contract. With that said, New Orleans desperately needed to fortify its interior defense from last season and, in Adams, the Pelicans are getting an established, experience center with size and defensive aptitude.
At this stage, Adams is likely overpaid for the 2021-22 season at $27.5 million but, with the extension, his salary slides back to a more manageable $17.5 million annually. Adams is an “old” 27-year-old given the amount of NBA experience he has, but his size and physicality should allow him to age with relative grace.
It will be interesting to see how Adams fits in with the Pelicans, as one of the chief criticisms of the trade is that he does not profile as the ideal frontcourt partner for Zion Williamson. Adams has many strengths, but he is not a floor-spacer on the offensive end, and while he is very potent near the rim defensively, he isn’t incredibly versatile on that end of the floor at this stage. Regardless, the Pelicans felt compelled to invest heavily in the center position for the 2020-21 season and, with this move, they can now plan to utilize Adams beyond the original timeline.