Targets if Dell Really Does Want to Trade His First Round Pick

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Published: November 24, 2015

In theory, it’s simple. You put your first round pick on the block and teams come to you offer a bevy of veteran players who can help you win now and in the near future. In reality, though, you need to find the right team. A team that is both willing to sacrifice for the future and has a player that is actually good enough to move the needle for your team. This time of year, the first part is the hardest, as most teams still fancy themself a playoff contender. And the teams that have no hope of the playoffs rarely have players who are needle movers. I mean, would you want any of the Lakers vets? Didn’t think so.

In a time when the cap is going way up, but rookie contracts are not, first round picks have tremendous value as long as you aren’t a contender. Picks 25-30 aren’t that coveted by teams because most teams would rather have high second round picks without guarantees. But if you aren’t a high level contender, then your pick has value. And if you are a potential lottery team (like the Pelicans), your pick could be worth its weight in gold to the right team. But who are these teams? Who will be the sellers in this market, and even better yet – What players would they sell that could actually make a difference for New Orleans? Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis seem to have the 4 and 5 positions locked down at an elite level, and Gentry has done nothing but praise Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. In addition, when you consider what Dell has given up for those two, he isn’t likely to want to move either.

Now that we have taken the unlikely off the table, let’s take a look at a couple of potential needle moving trades if Dell decides to make the first round pick available.

1. Eric Gordon and a top-3 protected 2016 1st rounder for Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore

Gay has taken a step backwards after Karl took over and McLemore has fallen out of favor in Sacramento. If Sacramento is clearly out of the playoff picture come January or February, an offer that would allow them to shed some salary and add a pick will be enticing. Add to that the likelihood that they can probably flip Gordon to a contender for another small asset and they might love this deal. On the Pelicans side, they add signficant length on the wing and allow the Jrue-Tyreke backcourt to finally start and finish games together without worrying about having to either be too small or risk upsetting Gordon by benching him. On top of that, McLemore gives Gentry a young project that just might need a change of scenery. McLemore is just 22 and has shown signs of being a knockdown shooter. Could be a win-win for both teams if Gay can work well with Anderson and Davis on what could be a devastating front line. Erman loves the idea of switching almost everything, and this move could give them a ton of different lineups that can do just that. The potential downside is that Gay is just another guy on offense who needs shots, and this team is full of them. But if he can play the Iggy or Barnes role where he takes the shots given to him and gets out in transition, this could be a needle moving deal for the Pelicans.

2. Omer Asik, Eric Gordon, and (top-3 protected) 1st round pick for Dwight Howard, KJ McDaniels, and Marcus Thornton

This would be a blockbuster filled with tons of story lines, but it might not be that far fetched. It is obvious that the Harden-Howard pairing wasn’t what they thought it would be, so why not go back to the center who did all the dirty stuff and helped put you on the map before Howard? We also know that Morey likes to hoard assets and he does that with the pick, and could either flip Gordon or use one of the top 3-point shooters in the league last year in a system that is obsessed with the 3. Meanwhile, the Pelicans take a huge risk that could yield an even bigger reward. Yes, it’s possible that Howard is never the player he once was and/or is a bad influence for AD in the locker room. But what if he is finally getting healthy and/or Houston was just a toxic situation? What if the Pelicans get 90% of Dwight in his prime to pair with AD? And not just AD, but his old running mate Ryan Anderson when AD goes to the bench. Imagine you are the opposing team and you get 2 of those 3 guys for all 48 minutes. Howard rim running, with Davis or Ryan Anderson popping out would be an even more unstoppable combo than when we say Tyson and David West doing it years ago. Defensively, Howard gives the Pelicans more shot blocking than Asik and his mobility on that end would allow the Pelicans to play him in more lineups that Asik on that end.

High risk, high reward.

3. Omer Asik and (top-10 protected) 1st round Pick for Joakim Noah

It is looking more and more like Fred Hoiberg just doesn’t have much use for the former DPOY and MVP candidate. He is a free agent after this year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him leave Chicago. So, what if the Bulls can find a guy that is locked in for a few years to play the same defensive role off the bench? On top of that, they can save some money (their management loves that), and add an asset? Meanwhile, the Pelicans add a guy who gives Erman everything he wants on the defensive end while giving Gentry the facilitator he wants on the offensive end. The Pelicans would have his Bird Rights and could easily sell him on staying. He might never be the MVP candidate he once was, but he is just 30 years old and can play fantastically with both AD and Ryno. On top of him being a better fit, you also get playoff experience, a leader, and a mentor – three things this team can use as it tries to take the next step.

4. Alexis Ajinca, Dante Cunningham, Toney Douglas and (top-3 protected) 1st round pick for Thaddeus Young

Could Young, Anderson, and Davis all work offensively? I don’t see why not with AD’s range and Ryno’s numbers on post ups and step backs this year when teams put small forwards on him. How about defensively? Could a Jrue-Reke-Young-Ryno-AD switch practically everything and have the length to help and recover? It might not be perfection, but it could be very, very good. Brooklyn’s future might be more dim than any franchise in any sport right now and they need to start adding picks to their bare cupboard. Young and Brook Lopez are likely the only assets they have with positive value, and Young is one of those combo forwards that Dell, Gentry, and Erman all seem to crave. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he was born in New Orleans and has the young vet status Dell craves.

Beyond that, it is hard to imagine another move that would entice Dell. Perhaps if the Knicks plummet after a decent start, Carmelo could become available, but that deal would likely have to include Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon to make salaries work. Are we sure that Melo would improve the team if they had to sacrifice those two? Other elite SF’s like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard won’t become available, and neither will any of the guards that would be significantly better than Jrue or Tyreke. While Dell has shown a tendency to trade 1sts for proven players in the past, he did so in a much different climate with far more needs on the team than he has now.¬†¬†Outside of the possible deals listed above, there aren’t many guys who will likely be available AND move the needle for this team. So, against all odds, Dell might just…..keep the pick!

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