Larry Nance Jr. has agreed to a two-year, $21.6 million contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal commits him to New Orleans for the next three seasons for a total of $31.3 million with his salary for this season included. Nance is the latest Pelican to ink an extension, as CJ McCollum, who came to New Orleans with Nance at the trade deadline, recently on a two-year, $64 million pact.
The motivation for New Orleans is obvious. Nance is a rare big man capable of surviving in virtually any lineup context in the postseason. He thrived as a small-ball center in the 2022 postseason, but could easily play power forward because of his ability to defend the perimeter depending on what sort of opponent the Pelicans are playing against. Having him in place for what amounts to mid-level money is an undeniable victory for New Orleans.
But the deal makes sense for Nance as well, who has suffered a number of injuries over the past several years and likely wants a bit of security. More importantly, the new deal lines him up to become a free agent again in 2025, when the league's new TV deal is expected to kick in and spike the cap. Nance will be 32 at that time, not quite in his prime, but still young enough to score a big contract as so many 2016 free agents did.
Expect to see plenty of high-level players set themselves up for 2025 free agency for that exact purpose. Until the league confirms that there will or won't be cap smoothing, free agents who hit the market in cap spike years should expect to get overpaid. But that's still three years away. For now, the Pelicans locked up a key contributor for three seasons at what amounts to a bargain price.