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1. Did the New Orleans Pelicans give up too much for Tyreke Evans (and Jeff Withey) by sending Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez to the Kings in the sign and trade?
Michael McNamara: In my opinion, no. Look, they were going to have to waive or trade Lopez any way just to be able to extend the offer sheet to Tyreke and Greivis Vasquez had no place on this roster with all the guards we have here now. You can argue that maybe you could have traded those two elsewhere and called Sacramento’s bluff. Maybe they would have chose not to match and you get Tyreke plus a late 1st round or 2nd round pick in that scenario. But is it really worth risking losing Lopez and Evans? I don’t think it is; not for two of the slowest players I have ever seen in a Hornets uniform. New era, moving forward; goodbye lead feet, hello speed!
James Grayson: No. Both players values are at their peak. Greivis Vasquez was due an extension following this season and was bound to be overpaid. Robin Lopez is on an excellent contract, but was never going to be a part of this core moving forward. I love both of these players, but to add the next piece to the puzzle, you have to give something up.
Michael Pellissier: No. I love the attitude and energy Vasquez and Lopez brought to our team, but they are role players, and you cast those aside in a second to grab someone you believe can make a difference on the team. We have plenty of other options at guard and there is no reason we can’t find someone cheap to provide a watered-down version of what Lopez did.
Mason Ginsberg: In a vacuum, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, no. First of all, making this move is FAR better than Tyreke signing the Pelicans’ offer sheet and hoping that the Kings don’t match. The result of that could have been swapping out Robin for pennies on the dollar and Tyreke staying in Sacramento. Making this move gives the Pelicans cap space to make subsequent moves to complete the roster, and that is key. The fact that the team also added Withey cannot be overlooked, either. He was a player projected to be drafted as early as right around pick 20 who ended up sliding into the second round, and yet he could very well be the Pelicans’ starting center (though only getting 10-15 minutes) on opening night.
Jason Calmes: Absolutely not. Lopez and Vasquez outperformed all expectations, and the tendency is to that think that increase will persist ad infinitum, or at least consider the possibility that some buried talent treasure is somewhere in there. Likely, teams will have adjusted to their newfound level of play, and the improvement will be stifled. The Pelicans now have two assets who will likely be of at least equal production with who could very well be undervalued. They also gave up some cap flexibility in the future, which should not be understated. Overall, however, worth it for the Pelicans.
Joe Gerrity: Could Dell likely have gotten better value had he traded Vazquez and Lopez independently without a timeframe? Sure, but that’s not the reality of the NBA. He has time and cap constraints that require him to make moves in less of a timeframe than may be ideal. I’m OK with things going down as they did.
2. If the team plans to use Tyreke Evans as a “super sub” off the bench, is $11 million per year too high of a price to pay?
MM: Manu Ginobli got just 28-31 minutes per game in his prime. James Harden got just 12 shots per game in OKC. Despite not playing huge minutes or taking 20 shots, it is impossible to argue that their impact wasn’t enormous. Tyreke might not start games, but he will change them and he will finish them. He had his most efficient season as a pro last year as a top option. Now, he gets to play against 2nd units for large stretches. The thought of that is scary for the 29 other NBA teams.
JaG: I think so, it just depends on the minutes and the role. I really do see Evans as a small-forward project. It’s likely that he’ll receive above 30 minutes per-game, so in that sense $11 million is quite fair. My issue is on the player development side. Does Evans develop a jump-shot, can he stop taking stupid shots? This is what I’m more concerned about when judging his contract.
MP: If you are looking at his career, 11 million per year may be too much regardless of his role, but you are going to have to overpay for some players, and I’d rather do it for someone who can score like Tyreke; in the end, I only think we’re overpaying by about 2 million per year, and that’s bearable. I have been watching tons of film on Evans and there is definitely room for growth.
MG: Yes, but it was a necessary overpayment. If the Pelicans made the Holiday trade and then failed to add any additional talent, it would have been an offseason that many questioned, as it would have sent a conflicted message about the team’s direction. By adding both Holiday AND Evans, the Pelicans add two athletic, talented 23 year old players who can grow with the rest of the team’s young core. Also, it doesn’t matter if he comes off the bench; it’s all about amount of playing time (Evans will get starter minutes) & who’s on the court in crunch time (Evans will be).
JC: If Anderson’s deal is great with 18.1 PER, 0.548 TS%, 30.9 minutes per game last season, I’m not sure how Evans’ deal can be considered so un-great when it’s valued at about an Austin Rivers more money for the same PER, slightly higher TS%, and nearly equal minutes projected. To de-narrow the question’s scope, he also provides some insurance against the potential absence of maximum-salaried guard, Eric Gordon. Moreover, he adds skills the team lacked dearly, aside from Xavier Henry. Yeah, Xavier Henry. Dude can drive and get to the line. For a Sixth who is a walking, talking, dunking insurance policy who allows you to let Xavier Henry go gently into that good night . . . the money is just fine.
JoG: It doesn’t matter who starts, it matters who finishes. If Tyreke is successful in finishing games for the Pelicans alongside their other stars, his salary won’t be considered anything but fair.
3. Which deal do you like better for the Pelicans: The trade for Jrue Holiday or the trade for Tyreke Evans?
MM: I love the Holiday trade because I don’t think any of those guys available at #6 or later had the ability to really help us this year, and I don’t even think their upside is close to that of Holiday’s. Couple that with the fact that several teams are tanking and our 2014 pick will likley be between 11 and 20, and I think the Holiday trade was a steal.
JaG: Jrue Holiday. I love this trade because it will help Anthony Davis. Holiday is a decent playmaker, but more importantly is a good defender. This is what makes me giddy because Davis can finally start to develop his defensive game. Hopefully the Pelicans can bring in a center who can at least provide a role similar to Robin Lopez.
MP: Jrue Holiday. There is no doubt that Holiday is worth every penny of his contract, and there was also no doubt that the Pelicans were going to be active in the offseason and improve the team. How does that 2014 pick look now? Dell grabbed an All-Star caliber talent who just turned 23 and who will be on a reasonable contract for the next 4 years. He is a big-time upgrade on both offense and defense. I can’t wait to see him in a Pelicans uniform.
MG: I like both of these moves together much more than I like just one of them. The Jrue trade signified that this team was expediting their rebuild, so they needed to keep that going, which the Tyreke trade successfully does. If I had to pick just one, I would take the Tyreke + Withey trade because the team would still have Noel and next year’s first round pick, but who knows if Tyreke agrees to go to New Orleans if the Pelicans hadn’t acquired Jrue?
JC: Holiday, all day, every day. Holiday is on a better deal and gave up two sets of potential. One is a complete mystery, the other has huge upside, a low floor, and enough off-the-court red flags to look like Pamplona tomorrow night. Jrue is an All-Star, 23, and on the rise by many measures. Evans’ trade required more assets and more salary commitment. Those assets had zero chance of being involved together on a title team, but they were known, solid, and liked (for what that is worth).
JoG: Both are above good, but not great. If I had to choose Holiday or Evans as individual players I’d choose Holiday. Given my feeling that Noel will one day be something pretty special, I guess I prefer the Evans deal overall.
4. What are your expectations for Tyreke Evans next year with regards to production?
MM: I think we will see a reduction in his raw numbers, but an increase in his efficiency and per-36 numbers. As I said before, he will terrorize 2nd units and/or winded 1st units. I also think he will get to the line more often, as Monty emphasizes that he attack at all times. And lastly, I think we see the first step in what will be a journey that culminates in Evans being a good to very good NBA defender. All the raw tools are there, and now it is up to Monty to get him to reach his potential.
JaG: Raw numbers: 14 points-per-game, 4-5 assists, 4-5 rebounds. What I really want to watch is these numbers: Steals, blocks, FG% (16-3PT range) and his usage percentage. I believe that Tyreke will improve especially with his defensive abilities. I see his production as something that will coincide with his team-mates.
MP: Tyreke is a tank with some serious ball-handling skill, an explosive first step, and strength to finish at the basket. He will also get to play with Smith and Anderson on the second unit, assuming no other major roster changes, and I’m drooling over Tyreke pick/rolls and pick/pops with those guys. It’s hard to project his production without knowing what kind of minutes he’ll get. If he gets ~30 minutes per game, I expect a small increase in the points/rebounds/assists categories and a more significant increase in his efficiency.
MG: I hate quantifying expectations for players, so I’ll just explain what I hope he does instead. I think that it will be important for Tyreke to remember to attack the rim as frequently as possible instead of settling for jumpers. With guys like Holiday, Gordon, and Anderson around him, he will likely have room to shoot almost whenever he wants. Evans shooting is average; Evans driving to the basket is elite. If he doesn’t settle for jump shots too frequently and focuses on penetrating the lane, this Pelicans team will be dangerous on offense. All that being said, defense is where I’m going to be watching him closest. With his athleticism and 6’11″ wingspan, he has the raw ability to successfully defend opposing small forwards; the question is whether or not he has the motor and dedication on that end to do so.
JC: I expect him to lead the team in free throw attempts per 36 minutes with at least 6. I expect his defense to start to come around. I expect him to be no less than 0 in the +/- category when coming off the bench since he’ll have large swaths of minutes against inferior opponents. I expect good performance in relief of Eric Gordon, when necessary. I’ll expect more next season.
JoG: 30 minutes. 15 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds. He’ll set career marks for fg% and 3-t % while turning over at a lower rate than ever before.The more I think about Tyreke, the more he makes perfect sense as a 6th man. For some reason I think he’ll buy into the system and truly care about the team’s success.
5. The Pelicans have some cap room left and also have the room exception. How would you like them to fill out this roster?
MM: I am a huge fan of Corey Brewer. I know his shooting numbers look awful from last year, but he had stretches where he was lights out, including a couple of games where he hit 5 or more three-pointers. He is bad, but he is a threat teams have to respect. He is not Al-Farouq Aminu. Defensively, he is so quick and long and really traps the pick and roll better than almost any wing I watched last year. Sign him and then bring in a shooter capable of playing multiple positions like Carlos Delfino. Then, use the MLE next year to get a better 4th big and I see a top 4 seed in the Western Conference as a real possibility.
JaG: Really need to fill SKILLS, not necessarily positions. This team needs shooters, maybe a player who can fill that SF “position.” They need a center who can defend, but also rebound the basketball. Finally, they need a veteran or two. I love that Dell is forming his core with players under the age of 25, but this roster seriously needs some veteran leadership, especially for Anthony Davis’ development. Think of what David Robinson did for Tim Duncan and to a lesser extent what PJ Brown did for David West.
MP: I want some shooters to surround our aggressive guards with. I would really like to squeeze Copeland into the roster if possible. People think of him as just a 3 point shooter, but he’s got more skill than that. He can put the ball on the floor to create for himself some and I would love to see him on our second unit. As for the first unit, I’d like to grab someone who can act as a stop-gap 3, like Carlos Delfino. After that, just pick up a cheap big for the veteran’s minimum.
MG: Dorell Wright has always been my priority at small forward, and the Tyreke trade doesn’t change that. He would likely cost more than the room exception, though, so the team’s replacement for Lopez would have to be a fairly cheap player. I would love Dalembert, but he’ll probably be too expensive if the Pelicans use their cap room on a small forward, and with the addition of Jeff Withey, it makes the decision to use the cap slace on a small forward even easier. With that room exception, I wouldn’t mind Cole Aldrich; he’s still young (24) and would be a solid body in the middle. If he can continue to develop a bit more, he could be a guy who sticks around here for a while as a player who gets about 10-15 minutes per game. But you know who else can? JEFF WITHEY!
JC: At this point, I want to take balanced approach on chemistry, cap, and cardiac arrest. Next season, the team does not project to have much cap space, if at all. Grab Aminu and Copeland. No more than 1 year guaranteed for Aminu, 2 for Copeland if he’ll accept under $3m per year, flipping Roberts or Jackson if need be. That will leave Room MLE money to give another backup big to complement the young Withey. Then bring back Mason at the min or slightly more if possible. Dell eats for free in the City until Bastille Day.
JoG: Is Aaron Gray available? Miss that dude. He’d be a pretty perfect option at OC (occasional center). Frankly I’m going to be upset if we aren’t finishing most games with Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Anderson-Davis. Whoever we bring in at small forward needs to be able to play good one-on-one D while stretching the floor on offense. I’m not too picky.