Pelicans Beat: 5-on-5 about Jrue, the 2014 pick, Vasquez, and Nerlens Noel

Published: June 28, 2013

1. What was your initial reaction when the Pelicans took Nerlens Noel at number 6?

James Grayson: Mixed emotions really. I wanted McLemore, but I did like the prospect of having two twin-towers, though I was extremely scared of the fact that the Pelicans didn’t have a ball creator.

Michael Pellissier: Happy. I figured that it wouldn’t look good on offense for a long while, but that defense could’ve been unbelievably quick in its rotations.

Joe Gerrity: Thrilled. He was the top player on my big board, and I expect he had as much trade value as anyone else the Pelicans could have acquired. Plus I loved thinking about Davis, Noel and Anderson up top, albeit for only a few minutes.Oh the block parties that would have ensued…

Michael McNamara: Very Excited. The perception of some was tha Noel was the best prospect in this draft, and in the NBA, perception is reality. Few guys are drafted and stay with a team for 10-15 years, so in reality, you are drafting commodities on this night. The Pelicans had a commodity that I knew at least a handful of teams found extremely valuable, fall right into their laps. Couldn’t have asked for much more on this night.

Jason Calmes: Pretty pumped. Dude will retain trade value whether he pans out in Nerlens . . . I mean . . . New Orleans. I wanted McLemore since he had fewer red flags, but I was pumped. I gestured. I cussed (in the good way). I had a nice long drink of my delicious, ice cold coke.

2. What was your reaction when you found out the parameters of the trade that landed us Jrue Holiday?

JG: Confused. I didn’t know what the details were initially and thought New Orleans was receiving a 1st-round pick. The pick is top-5 protected so I guess that’s nice. This team still has a major hole at the small-forward position, so after free-agency I will assess.

MP: Confused as well, because there were conflicting reports about who was receiving the first rounder. But my initial reaction? I was ecstatic and slapping the picnic benches at Pluckers. And no, I hadn’t had any adult beverages, but I was definitely having a sugar rush.

Joe: Thrilled! The first thing I heard was a completely lopsided trade that landed us a 2014 first rounder in addition to Holiday. Once it was corrected my enthusiasm dulled. I’m pumped that we’ll be competing for a playoff spot from here on out, but I’m not sold that it was ideal to do it this year as opposed to next. Time will tell.

MM: Disbelief. When I thought of us moving the pick for a young vet, I thought of guys like Wilson Chandler – you know solid players who might be able to start or be very good reserves, but not All-Stars by an means. I didn’t think that a guy like Holiday was on the table, but it’s nice to be wrong.

JC: Pretty @#$%^&# pumped. It took us a while to get it all straight at the party, but I think this is great. Holiday was someone I wanted to get on the team when he was on his way to becoming a restricted free agent, but I just thought it was impossible once his contract was extended. In walks Cleveland, and out walks impossible. Dell just acquired the restricted free agent point guard I most coveted when he was restricted from even being a free agent. The restrict free agent trend, thus, continues. I am still considering this, but I think this is major. If we play our cards right, this team could be a 4 – 6 seed in the West this coming season.

3. Comparing Vasquez to Jrue Holiday; Is Jrue Holiday a: Major upgrade, Minor Upgrade, or No Upgrade?

JG: Major upgrade. Vasquez is a good player, but Jrue Holiday is pretty awesome. The question will be whether he can improve the team.

MP: Major upgrade. We needed a quicker guard to initiate offensive sets and a better perimeter defender. Check and check. I have been harsh on Greivis, but now that we have another primary ball-handler, I would love to have him as a Swiss Army Guard. He’s given this organization everything he has.

MM: Major upgrade. I watched the Finals the last two years, and I have no idea how Greivis Vasquez could play in a series at that level. Jrue Holiday, on the other hand, can thrive. Not only is his skill set better now, but he is younger and he is infinitely more gifted physically. I had Vasquez as the 23rd best starting PG last season, while Holiday was top-10 and climbing. So yeah, major.

Joe: Minor upgrade for now, but Jrue should be a much better player than Vasquez in a few years. That said, I worry that he’ll never be more than a third tier point guard in a league where championships are won by first and second tier talent.

JC: Major Upgrade: Greivis is near elite at passing, but his deficiencies do not work and play well with the other deficiencies on the roster. Since he is the initiator, it falls on him, right or wrong. Jrue’s performance suffered when acquired the privilege of playing Bynum to sit around and do nothing, but he is a more complete player and a much better defender.

4. What does this trade say about Dell Demps?

JG: Says much of what we already thought. Demps said last off-season that this year the Pelicans would add their “next-piece.” They did it through Demps’ favourite method: trade. What concerns me is that this team has no on at small-forward and the team still has a long ways to go.

MP: We’ve been talking about how Dell wants to establish a culture here, and this trade shows that desire is real. The future is now, and they are ready to start winning. Dell is a very clever GM, and I’m glad we have him running our team.

MM: It says that he is always prepared for anything. There is no way that this trade was discussed in detail prior to last night, because I doubt either team believed that Noel could fall to 6. But it happened, and when it did, Dell snatched up the commodity and started fielding offers. When the bidding ended, he walked away with an All-Star.

Joe: It says that Tom Benson is his boss, and playoffs are on the agenda. For now that’s nice, but I’m not sure that we didn’t rob ourselves of a superior chance for greatness in the process.

JC: It says that Dell is a smart, smart man. He knows that if you are not drafting a superstar, then these high draft picks are MEANINGLESS unless you can keep them on your roster. The data shows that this is much harder than is commonly assumed. A winning culture is needed, and you have to win to build that. Plus, these first round 120% scale contracts aren’t all chocolate unicorns filled with money either. The fact that we just declined the options on two lottery picks and still had to play the year with them should just be the appetizer for that entree of a discussion. Dell cashed in two assets as their highest value to get the kind of player he wanted who was at value trough, and one who can be flipped as long as he performs due to a decent (not great) contract. All bases covered. All your base are belong to Demps.

5. Is our grade for this trade dependent on where the 2014 pick that we gave up lands next year?

JG: Somewhat, yes. If it lands in 6-10 it’d be pretty depressing. However I think there’s this mystic with draft picks that their future value is greater than today’s present value. Known commodities are chastised because they have little resonance among NBA fans to grow or ascend. Yet that is time and time again proven to be a falsehood.

MP: I think you have to factor it in, but the difference to me is negligible. If we throw this current roster out there and still manage to land in the 5-10 range, we have problems that extend far past not having a 1st round pick. I can’t take another season of rooting for a high draft pick. I’m a fan of Jrue and I think it’s imperative to find difference-makers wherever you can. Dell found that tonight in Jrue. It’s time to move forward.

Joe: Not really. Too much can affect the final location of a pick– Injuries, lottery balls, or even a coin flip shouldn’t really determine whether or not the deal is solid. The expected location of that draft pick is right around 15 today in my opinion. Unless Jrue plays substantially better or worse than expected, that’s the benchmark that we should use to judge it.
One unknown that may play a role in explaining why this deal inspires such differing emotions is the expected position which we would have drafted had we kept Noel and allowed him to sit most of the season. For me, that was in the top 8. So one way of looking at it is that we gave up a top 8 pick in 2014 and Noel for Jrue. I think that’s why a lot of people are upset about the deal.

MM: Not at all. We will never know what our pick would have been next year in the alternative universe where we just kept Noel. What I do know, is that our own Ryan Schwan has shown us year after year in his value of a draft piece article, that picks after number #5 are far less valuable than picks before #5. This pick is top-five protected. Do you think that is a coincidence?

JC: No. It’s dependent on what we would have done without this trade. That is basic, day one economics. Everything else is distraction. While this is unknowable, comparing Noel + the results of $12.5m in cap space + the 2014 pick result to Jrue + the result of $5,863,093 in cap space + Pierre may be a reasonable thing, as least for me. Noel wasn’t going to become a solid player this year or next based on his age and body type. That cap space had Brandon Jennings or Tyreke Evans all over it. That pick next season would have been a lottery pick, but likely worse than 6. Moving forward, that team is still building chemistry and losing. The Jrue-ful team is building chemistry and winning. The latter is what this team needs, bottom line. Where the pick lands is a only a proxy of how much this team loses, perhaps discounting `injury losses’ . . . still thinking on that.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.