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The extension, tying Nance to the franchise through the 2024-2025 season, allows him to join the Pelicans’ key players — including Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum — on long-term deals.
Nance was entering the final year of a four-year, $48 million contract.
The 29-year-old Nance arrived to the Pelicans in a February trade with the Portland Trail Blazers as part of a package with McCollum, and he didn’t make his debut until March 24 because of a right knee injury. Nance impacted the Pelicans’ run to the Western Conference playoffs, delivering 14 points and 16 rebounds in a play-in victory over the LA Clippers and scoring in double figures three times in a seven-game Western Conference playoff series.
“I’m finally healthy,” Nance said recently. “I played the end of the season still recovering from the surgery. The meniscus surgery I had, I didn’t realize how long that had been bothering me. I had lost a step, lost a little bit of balance and all that came back in the summer. I feel good. I feel better than I have the last few years.”
Nance thrived for New Orleans as a small-ball center off the bench in the playoffs and will continue in that role this season. With him at center, the Pelicans can utilize switching lineups with all five defenders at times. He could also play his natural power forward position or even be in big lineups with two of Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, Jonas Valanciunas or Willy Hernangomez at times.
Pelicans senior vice president of basketball operations David Griffin and general manager Trajan Langdon have reshaped and solidified a roster that’s expected to become a formidable contender in the Western Conference.
McCollum agreed to a new two-year, $64 million extension a week ago that ties him to the franchise through 2025-26, along with rookie Dyson Daniels. Williamson and Ingram are on max contracts through 2027-28 and 2024-25, respectively.
With a Lakers pick swap for 2023, a Lakers first-rounder in either 2024 or 2025, possible first-round swaps with the Bucks in either 2024 or 2026 and first-round picks from Milwaukee in 2025 and 2027, the Pelicans are well-positioned with some of the salaries on the roster to make a splash on the trade market when an opportunity presents itself.
Nance has had stops with the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers as well as the Blazers. He has averaged 8.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in his seven NBA seasons since getting drafted 27th overall out of Wyoming in 2015.
ESPN’s Andrew Lopez contributed to this report.