Living at the Deadline

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Published: February 6, 2020

Update: Now that we know the Pelicans did not get involved in a trade, keep in mind that the Pelicans can use the DPE ($3.625m) to make a waiver claim on a player in the last season of his deal. They can waive someone to make room. Frank may be the prime candidate there, but it could be others. The use of exception expires if Miller returns or on March 10, whichever is sooner.

Going into the trade deadline, the New Orleans Pelicans sit 6 games out of 8th place at 20-31. The team has had a giant losing streak, some very solid play, and have shown flashes of a team they might become. So, what do they do going into the deadline?

I don’t expect a major move, with the highest likelihood move involving Favors. The Pelicans could also get themselves into a little asset collection or re-allocation. They have a ton of seconds they could convert into something or flip to later years.

I’m just going to go through some factors, then a look at each player. I’m not getting into specific deals.

  • Players
    • Jrue Holiday
      • Jrue has high value on this team and would on other teams. It will take a big offer to move him, especially if Jrue wants to be in New Orleans. It’s more likely he moves between this offseason and the following deadline.
      • $26,231,111 with ~$5m in various incentives, 1 more guaranteed season + 1 player option season
    • Derrick Favors
      • Favors has the kind of contract that could get back some assets. He’s a solid vet, but on this team, his output is replaceable. The Pelicans need vets, so getting a couple back going into next season could help. Hayes may find himself entirely in the crucible here depending on the return, but that might be a good thing.
      • $17,650,000, expiring, Bird Rights
    • JJ Redick
      • Redick’s shooting and solid vet presence are valued commodities in the NBA. He’s on a reasonable deal. Redick’s contract may be too good to part with this soon, and he is not as replaceable as Favors. This fact could price him out of the trade market for now, even though other teams could get more from him than the Pelicans.
      • $13,486,300, 1 more guaranteed season, Early Bird Rights
    • Zion Williamson
      • Shut up
    • Lonzo Ball
      • Ball is an interesting case. He’s a gifted passer but manages games in a way that does not maximize his gifts. He is well worth the trouble or trying him out for a longer while, especially on a Gentry team. I do not expect him to move at the deadline except in a big move.
      • $8,719,320, 1 more rookie deal season, Bird Rights, RFA-eligible
    • E’Twaun Moore
      • Moore entered the season most likely to be traded and saw some DNP’s as a result. He’s shown his value on both sides of the ball and as a vet. Moore could very well be moved, but there is some rationale for keeping him, or even re-signing him. Let me add that Moore has gotten far too much flak over the past couple of years.
      • $8,664,928, Expiring, Bird Rights
    • Brandon Ingram
      • Shut up
    • Darius Miller
      • Miller is injured and is essentially just a contract this season. He could be the same next season as an expiring, so bringing him back is not crazy.
      • $7,250,000 , 1 more non-guaranteed year, Bird Rights
    • Jaxson Hayes
      • He’s not going anywhere as a throw-in except as part of a major deal.
      • $4,862,040 , 3 more rookie seasons, Bird Rights, RFA-eligible
    • Nicolo Melli
      • Melli’s value on this team exceeds his value on another team, so I only see him going out as part of a deal to make salaries work.
      • $4,102,564, 2 more seasons, Early Bird Rights, RFA-eligible
    • Nickeil Alexander-Walker
      • I think NAW is more tradeable from the Pelicans’ side than Hayes due to lower upside, but otherwise: see Hayes.
      • $2,964,840, 3 more rookie seasons, Bird Rights, RFA-eligible
    • Josh Hart
      • Hart has high value on this team. While his value elsewhere is high, I can’t see him going on since the Pelicans do not have bad contracts to attach him to in order to get value back that is not just rearranging fit. I don’t see Hart going out in a deal without a decent piece coming back and only in combination with, say, Favors or Moore.
      • $1,934,160, 1 more rookie deal season, Bird Rights, RFA-eligible
    • Jahlil Okafor
      • Oakfor is certainly worth a minimum, and I expect more. Most teams have no problem carrying a big at min, especially a young one, so no reason to send him out, no reason to hold up a deal because of him.
      • $1,702,486, Expiring, Early Bird Rights
    • Frank Jackson
      • Frank was the Pelican’s pseudo-first rounder in a prior season. He’s shown flashes, has not delivered. He’s a pseudo-vet now. I see him as most likely to be cut for a spot or tossed in when a small salary or spot is necessary. Whatever value he has has been surpassed by NAW, Didi, others.
      • $1,618,520, Expiring, Bird Rights, RFA-Eligible
    • Kenrich Williams
      • Williams does great work in the background. He’s more valuable on this team than others at this contract level. I see the Pelicans keeping him unless he is needed for a more major deal.
      • $1,416,852, Expiring, Early Bird Rights, RFA-Eligible
  • Other Assets
    • Two-ways: Zylan Cheatham, Josh Gray
    • Rights: Didi Louzada, Tony Carr, Latavious Williams
    • 2020 1st: Cavaliers (Top-10 Protected), Pelicans
    • 2020 2nd: Bucks, Pelicans, Wizards
    • 2021 1st: Lakers, Pelicans
    • 2021 2nd: Pelicans (subject to Bulls swap), Wizards
    • 2022 1st: Pelicans
    • 2022 2nd: Pelicans
    • 2023 1st: Pelicans (subject to Lakers’ swap)
    • 2023 2nd: None (Hawks)
    • 2024 1st: Lakers (or 2025), Pelicans
    • 2024 2nd: Pelicans
    • 2025 1st: Pelicans
    • 2025 2nd: Pelicans
    • 2025 1st: Pelicans
    • 2025 2nd: Pelicans
    • 2026 1st: Pelicans
    • 2026 2nd: Pelicans
    • Cash: $4,617,000 in, $5,617,000 out
    • Disabled Player Exception: $3,625,000

Strategic Considerations

  • Next Season
    • The Pelicans knew this season would be tough. They are playing for the future, really. They need to make moves that are going to help them get to a good place and be consistent.
  • Player Development
    • In the same vein, the Pelicans need to develop guys. We have been reminded just how nice “young vets” look compared to rookies. Too many rookies and young players can lead to bad results, bad development, bad culture. You need a mix.
  • Pelicans Culture
    • You just have to look at the losing streak and what followed to see the culture this team has. They were frustrated, but they did not melt down and bounced back. You have to preserve or improve that. Still, tread lightly.
  • Pelicans Identity
    • This team is still working out their identity. I don’t know how you make a move that is not asset-based or just “get a vet” until you know this.
  • Making the Playoffs
    • I value making the Playoffs for culture. There is a price that is too high to pay for it. You don’t mortgage the above for this less likely than not eventuality. The fight for 8th is likely far more valuable than the result of the fight.

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