The Pelicans and the Trade Market

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Published: December 14, 2013

The unofficial trade market opens tomorrow, as players who were signed this past summer will be eligible to be traded starting on December 15th. They are often used for filler, to make trades work cap wise, or they were signed this summer with the intention to be traded once the team was given its first opportunity. Regardless of the intention, the trade season seems to really get going on December 15th. Even Monty Williams acknowledged that making a trade once this date comes is a live option, and one that he and Dell have discussed.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some important dates and numbers that effect the Pelicans as the Trade Market unofficially, officially opens up.

1. February 20th – This is the trade deadline, so teams have until this date to get things done.

2. December 19th – If you acquire a player on or before this date, you will be able to package him in a trade with other players before the trade deadline. A player cannot be packaged in a trade within 60 days of being acquired. So, for instance, let’s imagine that the Raptors don’t have long-term plans for Greivis Vasquez, and just saw him as an asset. They can make him a part of another trade before the deadline this year, but if that trade went down on December 23rd, they could not have unless he was the only player going out in the swap.

3. 150 Percent plus $100,000 – Based on where the Pelicans are with relation to the cap, this is how much they can take back in a trade. For the trade to be legal, they can only take back up to 150% of their outgoing salaries, plus $100,000. So, if they trade Greg Stiemsma ($2.676 mil) and Al-Farouq Aminu ($3.749 mil), they can take back up to $9.7375 million dollars in salary. More on this later.

4. $7.43 million РThis is approximately how far the Pelicans are under the luxury tax line; a line they will not likely cross this year no matter how tempting the trade is. Technically, they could do a trade where they send out $15 million in salary and take $22.6 million back, but that would put them above the luxury tax line, so do not expect them to do that.

5. 2016 – This is the earliest first round pick that the Pelicans can trade, as their 2014 1st rounder essentially belongs to Philadelphia. And the Pelicans do not own their 2014 or 2015 2nd round picks either. So, long story short, if picks are exchanged it will be more likely that the Pelicans are getting them than giving them.

6. 19 – The number of players in the league with trade veto power. Al-Farouq Aminu is one of them. If Aminu is traded, he loses his ability to become a ‘Bird Rights Free Agent.’ Because of this, Aminu has the right to veto any trade with him in it. This might be big, it might not. If the Pelicans make it clear that they will not re-sign him in the offseason regardless, it becomes a moot point of sorts. But Aminu still holds the cards here. The Pelicans could find an ideal trade, with Aminu a part of it, and he could simply say no and the whole thing will come crashing down.

Potential Packages and Returns:

The Greg Stiemsma and Al-Farouq Aminu Package

Outgoing Salary: $6.425 million

Maximum Incoming Salary: $9.7375 million

You could also throw a minimum contract or two into this package and add another two or three million to the max incoming salary. This package is likely only enticing to a team looking to dump a long term contract and clear room for next year and beyond.

Possible Targets: Demar Derozen, Gerald Wallace, Caron Butler, Al Harrington, Glen Davis, JaVale McGee

Obviously, the two most intriguing names on this list are Derozen and McGee – both guys who have flashes of brilliance mixed with periods of inefficiency. The Raptors appear to be in cap clearing mode and the Nuggets are playing better since McGee went down with an injury. Would expiring contracts alone be enough to land one of these guys? Honestly, it is impossible to answer since it depends on what the other 28 teams can offer, but it is worth exploring.

The Austin Rivers and/or Future Pick, and Expirings Package

Outgoing Salary: Up to 10+ million

Maximum Incoming Salary: Up to 15+ million

It is hard to know whether a team out there thinks Rivers has any value. Admittedly, he has had terrible regular season numbers in his 60+ games in the league. But he was a lottery pick, the #2 High School player just a little over 2 years ago, and a guy who showed vast improvement this year in Summer League. Perhaps there is a GM that just feels he hasn’t been given the opportunity in New Orleans to play his game. If that is the case, Rivers and a future pick could be seen as assets for a team looking a few years down the road. The Pelicans can throw in expirings like Aminu, Stiemsma, and even Jason Smith if the right deal presents itself and take back over $15 million in salary.

Possible Targets: Wilson Chandler, Danilo Galinari, Zaza Pachulia, Luol Deng, Chris Copeland, Spencer Hawes, Anderson Varejao, Brandon Rush

The Nuggets will be right up against the luxury tax next year, and that would be before they sign their up-and-coming wing Jordan Hamilton. If they prefer him to Galinari or Wilson Chandler, it would be smart to trade one of those two so that they can sign Hamilton and stay out of the luxury tax. As a side note, Nuggets GM Tim Connelly was said to be a fan of Austin Rivers when he was here working with Dell.

The Bulls also need to shed salary in order to bring over Euroleague star Nikola Mirotic next season, and Deng appears to be asking for a big extension. Getting some assets and possibly even a guy like Aminu, who would fit with their style, could be enough to land Deng if hope for this season is lost in Chicago. Pachulia, Copeland, and Rush are solid rotation players with moderate salaries, while Varejao and Hawes are starters who would likely cost all of the teams assets.

The ‘Any of the Big Five’ Package

Sorry, I am not entertaining that today. While I would put the chances of a Gordon trade this year at 15% and Ryno at around 5%, I simply don’t think we see a move with any of these guys this year. Dell hasn’t been able to see what they can do together much yet, and in the few glimpses he has seen, the unit has been spectacular.

The Scraps for Scraps Package

Outgoing Salary: $1-3 million

Maximum Incoming Salary: $1.5-4.5 million

This is the trade that Demps has been famous for. He takes guys that are not producing for him and trades them for guys not producing for some other team, and Monty finds a way to get some production out of the acquired player. See: Jason Smith, Marco Belinelli, Willie Green, etc. In this scenario, he could trade Rivers, Stiemsma, Roberts, or Miller (or a combination of 2 or three) for an underutilized player who they think has potential.

Possible Targets: Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Jeff Taylor, Tyler Zeller, Ekpe Udoh, Jason Thompson

All of the guys are young and are recent first-round selections, with the exception of Taylor who was high second round. And three of them were even lottery picks. They are at overcrowded positions right now on their teams and don’t see many minutes, yet they all could very easily make the Pelicans rotation, as a big or a small forward.

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