Let ’em Have It?

Published: May 16, 2017

The New Orleans Pelicans are part of the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery this year, and they keep their pick if they end up with one of the top 3 selections. If not, the pick goes to Sacramento.

Convention wisdom says that we should all hope the Pelicans end up with the top-3 pick. The pros are clear. If you hit on a top 3 pick, you maximize that asset that can range in value from franchise-changing to borderline afterthought. That asset can be used in the draft or to trade. That trade can be for a key veteran, more picks, or some combination, and those moves make you more attractive to other players. Also, if you send the pick to Sacramento, you are left with just a second round pick and you help a potential competitor.

Let’s look at the other sides of each of those coins. First, you are going to send a first rounder to Sacramento. It’s top 1 protected for a couple of seasons, then it’s unprotected if it gets to that point. So, it’s just a question of which first round pick we send. Right now, the cost is low, likely sending out a late lottery pick. If things go bad next season, there is a much better chance of sending out a better asset. Also, having perpetually potential pick transfers completely complicates future deals involving picks or rebuild planning. Sacramento itself is an example of a franchise whose planning is continually disrupted by all the obvious reasons and because of the complications all their deals for picks have caused. Conveying the pick this season clears the obligations from this deal from future seasons, leaving a clean slate no matter who is in charge next offseason. Conveying the pick also removes a cap hold, in case the Pelicans go under the cap, as the indications are they will.

Besides the costs just mentioned, the team has to either draft a rookie and work them in with Davis and Cousins, who are on a different timeline, and both of those timelines differ from Gentry’s and Demps’, who should be intently focused on this coming season. If they trade the pick, the odds that the search for future pick or multiple lower picks are small for the same reasons. That leaves a vet. So, then they have to go find a star to trade for. This player will help, but it will be a disruption, and then the franchise has at least 3 high dollar players to deal with. Managing a basketball team includes managing the actual players and their agents. It gets harder and harder to deal with the more talent that is acquired. These are, of course, good problems to have, but given the fit issues on this team already, this is a recipe for starting slow out of the gate.

Gentry and Demps are less than popular these days, and if you want them to go, you should root for the pick to be conveyed, as well. It keeps next offseason as unencumbered as possible and gives them fewer assets with which to make a splash this season at some point, if they last long enough for the splash to be made. This is not why I want the pick to convey, but it should be the position for those people who really believe Gentry and Demps are so much worse than the live options to replace them. Of course, not everyone has coherent positions. A little reading is all it takes to show you those who peddle their substandard wares using demagoguery.

The odds favor, by a wide margin, conveying the pick this offseason, and I’m fine with that. Just get it over with, move on trying to work free agents or find that trade to improve the team after the draft. If they come away with a pick, they’ll have options, and the biggest annoyance to me will be having to avoid the nonsense being discussed about what should be chosen among options of which those discussing have next to no knowledge. So annoying, but that’s a good problem to have overall. It’s just that conveying the pick is not without its own, less shiny, benefits.

Speaking of annoying discussions, the franchise hasn’t announced they are staying the Pelicans, so I guess that’s up in the air, too. Maybe Voodoo is back on the table because we haven’t heard otherwise.

By the way, that last bit is sarcasm. Stop whining about people not announcing the default state of affairs in fact came to pass. Who does this in the real world? Mason nailed it yesterday. These guys are running a business, something so many people forget.

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