Identifying the Next Anthony Morrow

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Published: April 22, 2014
Anthony Morrow plays defense against the Sacramento Kings.

After an exciting summer that saw the Pelicans make bold trades for Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, Dell Demps had some roster spots to fill and started by bringing back Al-Farouq Aminu, then signing Greg Stiemsma before finally bringing in Anthony Morrow on a minimum contract. Morrow was kind of an afterthought in a hectic offseason, but by the end of the year, he was a fan favorite and a 2014 summer priority.

Morrow was not a hot commodity last summer (obviously), but why? Well, it was a unique set of circumstances. In Brooklyn, they just loaded the roster with big money guards and there was no role left for Morrow. Then, in Atlanta Kyle Korver was already in place and that left no room for Morrow. Finally, when he got to Dallas, he got hurt. So when he got to free agency, General Managers saw a guy who had fell off a cliff. From 10+ points per game over each of his first three years to just 4 ppg in 2012-2013. All these factors led to a guy who just three years earlier got a muti-year deal worth $4 million per to get a minimum deal last summer.

Morrow’s story is not a unique one. Every year a couple of guys fly under the radar and get picked up on bargain basement deals. Last year, in addition to Morrow, Nick Young, Darren Collison, DJ Augustin, and Mo Williams all signed for far less than they had made in the past and resurrected their careers. They were all guys who had produced in the past, but ran into some bad situations and were forced to take a huge pay cut. But they all provided tremendous value for the team that took a chance on them.

So, who in the 2014 free agent class could fit this profile? After Demps makes some bigger moves early in the summer, who might be standing around at the end of free agency that Demps can swoop in and grab for the league minimum? Here are some names:

James Jones, F, Miami Heat

This year, James Jones shot nearly 3 three-pointers a game and shot 52% from deep. The problem? He has only played 20 games. As recently as 2011-12, Jones was a big part of the Miami rotation, but since Ray Allen was added to the team, the Heat really haven’t had any use for Jones. But like Morrow, Jones is a terrific knock down shooter, as he has hit 40.3% from deep over his career. He is 33 years old, and teams haven’t seen him on the court much these past two seasons, but he is a long wing shooter with championship experience. Might not be a bad guy to add on the cheap.

Dejuan Blair, F/C, Dallas Mavericks

Blair looked like the steal of the draft after the Spurs plucked him in the 2nd round in 2009 and he proceeded to get 2nd team All-Rookie. But as the Spurs started to play much faster and space more, Blair began to play less and less. This year, he signed with the Mavericks for the minimum, but because of the emergence of Brandan Wright, his minutes have shrunk yet again as the season has gone on.

But in a lot of ways, he is still the same player as he is a beast around the rim despite his lack of size, shooting 64% from 0-3 feet. He also has a healthy rebound rate once again after dipping in the last two years. In fact, he had a higher offensive rebound rate than any Pelican this season and  had a much better defensive rebound rate than Smith, Withey, or Stiemsma, and even slightly higher than Aminu.  Blair would fill in some gaps for this Pelicans team – providing physicality and rebounding on a cheap contract.

Brandon Rush, G/F, Utah Jazz

Rush is a guy that Demps tried to trade for on two separate occasions, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a flyer on him this summer, since the price will be so low. After signing a two-year, $8 million contract with the Warriors in August of 2012, he tore his ACL that November and hasn’t been the same since. He only played two games last year and just 30 this year after being traded to the Jazz.

The guy who played for the Warriors in 2011-12, however, would be the dream addition for this Pelicans team. Rush played great defense and shot 45.2% from deep. In his career, Rush is a 45.1% shooter from the corner three spot and is a good finisher at the rim (65% in 2011-12). But Rush might never be the same after ACL surgery. Or maybe it just took him this year to recover and he can be back to 90/95 percent next season. If so, he can be one of the best bargains in the NBA. Just like Morrow was this year.

Andris Biendris, C, Utah Jazz

You wanna take a real all or nothing swing? How about signing Biedrins to a minimum contract? It is hard to believe, but Biendris just turned 28 years old three weeks ago. Remember, this is a guy who put up 12 points and 11 boards in just 30 minutes per game. He is a guy who once lead the league in FG percentage and legitimately earned a $54 million contract because of his stellar play. But out of nowhere, Biendris fell off a cliff, as his FT percentage plummeted to unfathomable depths and his confidence went with it.

After a slow decrease in minutes for the Warriors each of the past few years, Biendris got just 45 minutes for the Jazz, taking just one – yes, one – shot all season. He truly has hit rock bottom, and maybe he will never return. But he is a Center who is still young that has shown that he can play well in this league, so perhaps he is worth a shot. And perhaps next year, he will take more than one shot if we give him one.

The Next Roberts, Ajinca, or Babbitt 

Demps has also been terrific at finding guys in Europe to bring over on minimum contracts and have them contribute. In addition to these three, Demps also found Gustavo Ayon, who played well for a year before being shipped off to Orlando for Ryan Anderson. Some GMs draft guys in the second round and stash them in Europe. Dell kind of does it the other way – he lets the guys play over there for a few years and then hand picks the one he wants. Here are some he might be interested in this summer:

Derrick Brown, F, 26 years old

Brown is a guy who has an excellent wingspan and is incredibly athletic. He played in the NBA for three years after being drafted by the Bobcats in the second round, and played well in 2011-12, but didn’t get a new contract when he became a free agent. Instead, he went to Europe and has been tearing it up, shooting 61.2% from the field over the last two seasons while doing a decent job of getting to the line. Like Babbitt and Ajinca, Derrick Brown has had a taste of the league and is starving to get back.

Kyle Hines, PF/C, 27 yrs old

Hines is an undersized big but he plays huge, in part because of his wingspan. Hines is only 6’6″ but he plays a ton of center because of his 7’2″ wingspan and 245 pounds of solid muscle. The guy is built like a wrecking ball, and because of that he is one of the leading rebounders in Euroleague and he can finish around the basket too. The hope here would be that he can be a Reggie Evans-type player that performs at a high level despite not exactly looking the part.

Justin Dentmon, G, 28 yrs old

Dentmon can flat out score, especially from beyond the arc. Both the Spurs and the Mavericks have given him two game stints in the NBA after he performed well in the D-League, and now that he is lighting it up in the Euroleague, he should get another shot in the NBA. In fact, his numbers and his game closely resemble Brian Roberts’ numbers, as Dentmon is an excellent free throw shooter too. But Dentmon is a better three-point shooter and is a better passer than Roberts.

Curtis Jerrells, G, 27 yrs old

Remember him?! Once upon a time, Dell Demps traded for Jerrells but he didn’t pan out as the backup point guard. Now, Jerrells is playing well overseas and has added a much more consistent three-point shot to his repertoire. Like Pierre Jackson, Jerrells went to Baylor and had a great college career as a lead guard. Unlike Jackson, Jerrells actually stayed overseas and now his game is all the better for having done so.

Joey Dorsey, F/C, 30 yrs old

I will admit some bias here, as Dorsey is one of my favorite college players of all time. He is an undersized center who is a tireless worker and smart defender. Dorsey was the 33rd pick in 2008, but he never found a place in the league, but has shined over in Europe. He racks up rebounds and blocks in bunches and doesn’t need the ball to impact a game. The biggest weakness in Dorsey’s game is his FT shooting – he makes DeAndre Jordan look like Mark Price – but again, he doesn’t need the ball in his hands. He can provide a hunger and a toughness in the locker room that this team could use.

Sasha Kaun, C, 28 yrs old

Yes, that is his real name, and Kaun is a real player. Some of you might remember Kaun from Kansas, but since then, he has been in Europe getting better each and every year. He is an excellent offensive rebounder who is below average as a defensive rebounder. He also shows great touch around the basket and quite a bit of athleticism for a big man. And while Kahn is 6’11″, it is his 7’6″ wingspan that could have GM’s drooling. He might be worth a look, if only to push his successor Jeff Withey as he tries to take on a bigger role with the Pelicans next year.

25 comments
504ever
504ever

After watching the Nets playoff games so far, I wonder if we should be looking for the next Mason Plumlee?  Commentators correctly point out he is a rim protector who is quick enough to play pick and roll defense well.  He has a PER of 19 without a refined offensive game and he passes well, too.  

Hmmm, will there be a Mason Plumlee clone available around #22 in this years draft?

JdDub
JdDub

http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=m6ooysp

Esentialy it would look like this except without Steve Blake and Jeremy Lin. And Gordons 30 mill over the next 2 years gets stretched to 30 mill in 4 or 5 years. Ajinca and Pierre are sweeteners for whoever needs them. We could also use the unguaranteed contracts of Luke Babbit and Melvin Ely who acount for posibly 2 million in cap relief for them, that is of course if they dont want to keep Babbit.

That would be Klay Thomson Harrison Barnes and Omer Asik for essentially Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and whoever else is needed to get the trades done. Out of the bench guys we lose Ajinca and Babbit have the most value to us but can be easily replaced. Melvin Ely was picked up to be a trade sweetener and Pierre Jackson has tremendous value considering he hasnt played a miute in the NBA.

JdDub
JdDub

I know this is about finding the next AMo but I remembered a couple of years back Golden State was interested in Gordon. Trade talks failed mainly because they werent willing to give up Klay Thomson and Harrison Barnes. Watching the Wariors in the playoffs I see a huge problem for them. They have nobody other than Curry who can get to the basket on a regular basis. They seem redundant on Offense with all the their shooters. Now I checked and saw that this year Klay has a 14 per which is below League average, and they havent been very high on Barnes ( as seen by his limited playing time ) who has a per of 9. I checked ESPNs Trade Machine and obviously there is no way to make the money work right now, but with both Klay and Harrisons contract increasing next year and Steve Blakes 4 mill coming off the books as well as Tyrekes cap cost going down if they were to throw in a cheap un guaranteed contrat or two I believe its possible to make it work. So Klay, Harrison, and a filler for Tyreke and the draft rights for Pierre Jackson. With this deal we shed a litte bit of money and aquire an Elite 3 and D shooting guard and a posible long term fix at the small forward spot. Thus freeing us up to try to move Gordon or stretch him them move him and add a center. Houston was also interested in Gordon a while back. They liked the idea of him and Harden together if I remember correctly. If we can strech him for 5 years his cap hit will be between 6 and 7 mill then we package him with Alexis Ajinca and send them to Houston for Omer Asik and a second rounder. Then we resign Jason Smith to a 1 or 2 year deal to be Asiks backup and have Whithey as our 3rd center to develop him as J Smittys replacement. We keep Babbit as our 3rd stringer behind AD and Ryno. With these moves we save any where from 7 to 10 million next year and with the 6 mill we already have thats 13 to 16 million in cap space next year to fill out the roster, sign Morrow and still have a little left over for when we have to resign AD, Klay, and Omer. Damn I should be the Pelicans GM lol

Houpgarou
Houpgarou

What?!? No bolester mccalebb? Sadly we have 0 to no need for a scoring pt guard, still I hope Bo gets a chance in the league, I would love to see it with us if Brob moves on, etc

masabasket9
masabasket9

Hello, I am a fan of New Orleans following the team from Spain. Interestingly I am also fan of FC Barcelona, team at Joey Dorsey playing. I've seen all season, and I honestly don't think can contribute anything to the team. It's a good defender, but here in Europe. I don't think the NBA again.

xman20002000
xman20002000

We have been developing young players for the last two seasons...I just read where the Suns look to be swapping draft picks. 3 in the first round for veteran players... They don't want to get any younger than they already are...  I think we were the youngest team in the league... not good if you want to win...  Top 5 protected is enough... we either luck out or move on... 

PelicanSaints
PelicanSaints

How about some fringe draft guys....Casey Prather, Joe Harris and junior LaQuinton Ross...I love Cleanthony Early, but he'll be long gone even if we manage to get second round pick......and if you want to skim the bottom of the barrel, Rickey Davis has been putting up good numbers in the D-League.......Lol


Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara moderator

Again, this was a piece about skimming the bottom of the pool - not the main targets for the summer. We will have plenty of pieces on MLE targets, guys who we can get back into the draft for, our own players, etc. 

This was a piece with a very narrow focus on a very specific kind of player 

PelicanSaints
PelicanSaints

Great conversation piece.....aside from the obvious free agent SF we've talked about...Dell probably will try to bring in a Euro guy who can just shot the 3, but who probably will be lacking on D.....or Dell may try a college senior, if he can creep back into the second round of the draft.....can't wait to see how the off season unfolds for the Pels........

GerryV
GerryV

I'm glad you covered these players as it allows us to print the info,paste on our walls as a reminder to stay away from them! Jones is 30 and lacks the floor game…Blair is too slow and has no ACLs in both knees…Rush ACL issue and inconsistent…Biendris? I'd rather have you play the position…Hines? No….Hey,don't be offended to helped us all….grins from V

adfly
adfly

Brandon rush, derrick brown, Kyle Hines and maybe Dorsey sound like potential winners. Everyone else is damaged or broken goods

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

I liked Joey Dorsey a lot too.  Played with Rose and CDR.  Heck of a team.  Kinda shocked to hear he is still playing basketball....

CoReMeGa
CoReMeGa

Gr8 read Mr McNamara!

I'm excited to see what the Pels do this summer! Thanks for all of the info on the "stretch" contract situation with Gordon (Past article). That is amazing that they will be able to use that and I hope that they do wait until the summer of 15'..  because the Free Agent class looks like we might be able to add 2 studs to this squad with the way that the cap is looking and if we can shed Gordon.

I'm sure it's already coming.. but I would love to see a piece once the playoffs are over that identifies desperate teams. I know Gordon will be tough to move but I actually think that there will be at least a couple teams that have cap space and need to try something different (Wolves/Hornicats/Cavs).

The Timberwolves.. this is my prediction! I think that they will desperately try to keep Love (Duh). Gorgi looks like a great compliment and makes Pek expendable! I think that a 3rd team would have to be involved but I could see this happening..

Wolves get - Lance Stevenson/ Gordon

Pacers get- Kevin Martin/ Barea

Pelicans get- Pekovic/ Brewer

Fingers crossed that the Pacers lose in the 2nd round. They already are probably nervous about giving Lance a big contract and I think that Martin would fit well on that team. Wolves get a different look and we get the 2 guys that I was hoping for last year (wouldn't even ming taking Barea if we have to). We would have to throw in some sweeteners to get it done.. Pierre/2nd Rounders... but I like it haha!

504ever
504ever

None of these guys thrill me.  

Since it looks like we will resign Morrow, I hope we sign a rising/undiscovered FA SF who is at least a '3 and D' guy.  There should be a good number of them.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara moderator

@504ever  Funny thing about Plumlee is that he is about 10-15 pounds heaver than AD, or to put it more plainly - what AD will be by the beginning of 2015, if not sooner. 

I think if the Pels add a Center, he will be more in the 260 range. Jusif Nurkic fits that profile, but he is far too young (though Dell was at his game the other day). Mitch McGary kinda fits, though he is a little short. The best fit? Walter Tavares - projected 2nd round pick who is 22 years old;  7'2", 265 pounds

bucklezzzman
bucklezzzman

@JdDub what drug of choice would you use to spike Golden State's GM's coffee to get this preposterous deal done?!

504ever
504ever

@JdDub  

It seems exceptionally unlikely that we will trade any of our core pieces: Davis, Holiday, Evans, and Anderson. The point of this article, and others like it, is how and what do we add to that core?  In this article, the question is how do we add to the core without trading anything!

jmbell7
jmbell7

@xman20002000  I noticed that too. They're guard heavy so maybe they won't take back Gordon, but if they would I would love to get Plumlee, Tucker, and a couple picks.

GerryV
GerryV

@Michael McNamara  Well get back up to the surface! It was obvious you weren't selling these guys as prime suspects for the team so you are innocent of all charges…..

xman20002000
xman20002000

@GerryV   Mr. Know It All.... LOL... Glad you are around...  Currently I am more interested in what we keep...  aka Jason Smith, Aminu, Morrow are all UFA and Roberts and Miller are restricted..  ...

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara moderator

But Morrow didn't thrill anyone either. The point of this piece was to identify minimum contract guys who can exceed expectations.

Pieces on bigger targets will come later

JdDub
JdDub

Yeah I know but I had been thinking about it for a while and didnt want to wait for a trade article lol. And Tyreke is the only core peace we would lose, but we would essentially be trading him for a younger better fitting core piece and a posible fix at sf. We need to surround AD with shooters to get the most out him and his skill set. Tell me you wouldnt trade Reke for a 6'7 sharpshooting shooting guard with borderline elite perimeter defense who is on his rookie contract and a small forward with long term starting potential

xman20002000
xman20002000

@jmbell7 @xman20002000 It's not just Gordon.... Looking at Houston in the playoffs...  Howard seems to need a player like Anderson...  Would we trade him for Asik...  Love to have Gordon in the playoffs and through a healthy season...Finally why do you think teams are going to trade their young core for Gordon...

GerryV
GerryV

@xman20002000 @GerryV  At times being blunt is a very beautiful thing…we're here to win games not run a popularity contest.Go pack a change of clothes,grab a few sandwiches and go find the Pelicans a legit player to add to the mix….go now!