Pelican Scoop: On the Trade Deadline

Published: February 1, 2016

We are all thinking about it, so why not have a conversation about it – The Trade Deadline. For the last few seasons, the Pelicans have been mostly buyers or, at the very least, neutral this time of year. All of their core pieces were under contract for multiple seasons and they were on a clearly upward trajectory, but this year is a bit different. Their terrible start, combined with Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson both slated to become free agents this summer made becoming a seller and “tanking” a real possibility.

A recent stretch that has not only seen them win games and get back into the playoff hunt, but actually play better on both sides of the ball, has made becoming a buyer or doing nothing a far greater possibility. These guys are starting to play the way many imagined they would to start off the season, and with the West in major decline after the top 4 or 5 teams, the Pelicans could realistically be in 7th or 8th by March.

So, what should Dell Demps and company do at the trade deadline? More importantly, what types of offers do they realistically have on the table? To some, it seems so clear – Trade Ryno for a wing! Get a pick for Eric Gordon! What if those offers aren’t on the table? What if the best you can do for Ryno is an expiring and a pick between 25 and 40? What if nobody wants to touch Gordon, or even Tyreke Evans with a ten foot poll?

This Pelican Scoop will not live in fantasy land. Instead, we are talking about the tough choices. What is the MINIMUM you would take to move one of those guys? And if that minimum offer doesn’t come up, are you willing to risk losing him and getting nothing this summer? Are you willing to just give Tyreke away despite his impressive raw numbers? We ask those questions and get those answers with your favorite Pels writers in this edition of the Pelican Scoop.

  1. With regard to whether the Pelicans become buyers, sellers, or neither – How important do you think these next 8 games are, before the All-Star break?

Michael McNamara: 0-8 obviously makes them sellers. 8-0 make them buyers, or at the very least, prevents them from selling. The tricky part is where the line is between the extremes. I would guess that making the playoffs matter to the Pelicans, but not if their socks get knocked off by a deal that sets them up for the future. I think Dell is willing to let this season play out, and maybe add a piece if it doesn’t cost much, similar to last year. But if someone gives him an offer he can’t refuse for Ryno or Tyreke he takes it. Regardless of their record over these next 8 games.

Jake Madison: No matter what I don’t see the Pelicans as buyers. Truth be told I think the Pelicans will stand pat and see if this roster can compete for a playoff spot. You may see a small move or two but nothing substantial. Now, if they go 0-8, that may change things and you could see Anderson moved at that point.

Chris Romaguera: More than a set record over the next 8 games, the bigger question is where they lie in conjunction with the 8 and 9 seeds. 4-4 doesn’t necessarily make them sellers, but if Portland goes 6-2 or better, putting the Pels at 5.5 games back, they may be more active sellers (or if Denver jumps past them again.) The stat that keeps being used to sell the Pelicans success is not the overall record (which will be a disappointment either way) but their proximity to the bottom of the playoff race in the weakened West.

Jason Calmes: I don’t think the next 8 games affect their posture in the market. I think the games up to the deadline, injuries aside, may affect the price of certain assets, with winning producing better return for the Pelicans. Moreover, I don’t think they are buyers or sellers. I think they are buyers in some ways, like small forward, and sellers in others, like power forward . . . buyers for young vets (as has been the case) and sellers for guys whose timeline is not aligned with Davis. It’s a more complex but more realistic position, and I think it’s accurate.

Mason GinsbergThe only reason that the next eight games would matter for the Pelicans’ trade market positioning is if Demps believes that his job is riding on whether or not New Orleans makes the playoffs. I’m going to choose to believe that the organization is not that short-sighted (Demps’ job may still be on the line, just for different reasons), and as a result, will operate more as sellers than buyers (though that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will simply deal Ryan Anderson to the highest bidder).

  1. At minimum, what would it take for you to move Ryan Anderson right now? How would that change if his representation let you know that it would take 4 years/$75 million to re-sign him this offseason?

MM: Not knowing how much he will command this summer, or how bad he wants to stay, it would take at least a pick projected between 12-20 AND a prospect for me to part with Ryno. The Oubre/Humphries deal Lowe proposed, for example, wouldn’t be enough for me. Add a pick, and we got a deal. Same for Toronto. Give me a pick AND Delon Wright. Now, if I knew it was going to take 4/75 or he was gone, I might play hard ball but then settle for just one of the two (pick/player) at the deadline. But honestly, I wouldn’t mind giving Ryno 4/75. People say, “You can’t win a title with Ryno making that much.” I say – “Newsflash, this team probably is never winning a title no matter what they do. I like Ryno, so let’s keep him.”

JM: This is tough. Everyone expects Anderson is going to get a near max-ish deal this offseason. And that’s a contract I don’t see the Pelicans coming close to wanting to pay him. At that point, getting something in return whether a pick or some players is the way to go. I’m going to chicken out and not give a concrete return, but I think teams will be hesitant to trade for him knowing he could bolt this offseason. So my ideal return would be lower than Mac’s.

CR: Anderson fits the team at this price range, for he spaces the floor and is an offensive threat, but can’t stay on the floor due to his defense. When he gets a Rashard Lewis contract next year, which will place him out of the Pelicans’ price range, especially since they are not slated to be championship contenders, I’m assuming he is gone. So what I’d want for Anderson is a similar but not as good stretch-4 tied into a longer term contract attached with a solid young piece or first round pick. Such as trading Anderson to Detroit for Ersan Ilyasova and one of the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope/Stanley Johnson duo (or a first round pick), or to the Orlando Magic for Channing Frye and Victor Oladipo (or Tobias Harris or Nikola Vucevic).

JC: A decent rookie scale wing player or forward in his 3rd or 4th season or a pick very likely to be top 10. I don’t think Ryno is part of a team with Anthony Davis going forward if they push for a title, so my price is simply another version of good player, but one with a little more cost control and the potential to have his cost match his role.

MG: My answer is very similar to Jason’s. The Pels need to make youth a priority if they’re thinking long-term, or else they’ll end up trying to pitch AD on playing with a bunch of 30 year olds when he reaches his prime. Roll the dice on a young wing player on a rookie scale deal who may or may not pan out, or find a more expensive, more proven player who may be a little older, but not prohibitively so. That or a pick in the top half of the draft.

  1. What type of deal would it take for you to be willing to give up the Pelicans 2016 (top-3 protected) 1st round pick?

MM: I would want to package it with Tyreke or Asik, first and foremost. Basically, if I am giving up that pick, I am likely adding another core player, and I probably don’t need Tyreke. Or, I am adding another big salary, and that means I need to get rid of Asik. My ideal deal would be: Tyreke, the pick, Ajinca and some 2nds for Al Horford and Jeff Teague – with Atlanta having somewhere to move Tyreke for more assets and the Pels having a wink-wink deal with Horford to re-sign this summer. You then would have another deal lined up for Ryno to get a pick back, and would have a core of Teague, Jrue, AD, and Horford, with Asik playing the role he did in Chicago as a bench defender/rebounder. Atlanta does it if they are in full rebuild mode and/or Horford has let it be known to the Hawks he won’t re-sign. They get picks and a cheap long term center as they re-tool.

JM: Assuming you’re not going to get any of the top prospects of the past two drafts (and the Pelicans won’t) I’d either need to package it with Asik while still getting a piece in return, or a core player. The problem is I think the Pelicans are a little gun-shy after not having a pick for a few years, so I think it’d take a player like Serge Ibaka to make it happen.

CR: It’s tough giving up that first round pick since the Pelicans have essentially traded their last four away. In order to do that, I’d need to either get rid of Omer Asik’s contract without taking one in return (call it the Philadelphia 76ers special), or I’d need to get a recent first round pick from a team trying to reboot. D’Angelo Russell, Jusuf Nurkic, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Mario Hezonja, Stanley Johnson, Emmanuel Mudiay all would have me thinking about it.

JC: Not much. I don’t think picks help this team very much at this point unless they end up over the cap. The standard answer: young vet, 3rd or 4th season is a position of need . . . so small forward, for example. A player that made trading Evans or Gordon less disruptive would also be welcome. This franchise has been on a clock since they drafted Davis, and while they need to be at least sustainable going into his potential 3rd contract, they have to convince him to sign. As such, the far future is much less important than the next 3 or 4 seasons. Bring that value forward.

MG: The answer to this question depends on whether or not you think Benson would agree to stretch Asik’s contract. If no, then you could sell me on attaching it to Asik if the Pels could get at least a little bit in return apart from purely freeing them of Omer’s deal. Otherwise, the answer is similar to what I’d accept for Anderson (a young wing), except a higher minimum threshold on the caliber of player being brought in.

  1. What would be the minimum return you would take to trade Tyreke Evans?

MM: You have to either: Take Asik’s contract and give me a little asset, or give me a quality bench guard and a solid pick. For example, I would do Tyreke and Asik for Joe Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Or, I would do Tyreke for Rodney Stuckey, Solomon Hill, Joseph Young, and the Pacers 1st rounder. Tyreke is having a great year statistically, but I don’t see him as a long term piece. Do you wanna pay him $100 million plus in 2017?

JM: I think it’d be too much salary to combine both Evans and Asik for a team to really be interested in both. But I’d take some bench depth in return for him. I think the Kings make the most sense with Evans going back to his first NBA team and Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi heading to New Orleans.

CR: I’d take part of both of the guy’s answers above me. Asik and Evans for Joe Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would be a great deal (and with the Nets having no first round pick, and it going to the division rival Boston Celtics, may make some sense for them). I also like the idea of him going to Sacramento for Belinelli (though I’d target Ben McLemore instead of Casspi.) As lagniappe, I’d even look at Denver with Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler. The idea being to trade him for players who have a greater gravity behind the three point line, are better defensively and have lower usage rates.

JC: See prior response. Evans is a good player, just less so with Davis. He’s clearly talented and has many attributes that would be valued highly on a number of teams, including the Pelicans. The issue is that he has has simply not deferred to Davis as often as he should in key situations. Most teams don’t have a Davis-like player, so this is a non-issue in many cases. For Evans, I’d like a similarly talented player on a longer contract. This would be a deal to let a team change direction to give a fanbase something fun to watch while they make the turn. He has name recognition, and it’d work. That extra year on his deal, in this case, means the asking price can be higher since the cap space around the League may be at more normal levels, relatively speaking, by the time he reaches free agency.

MG: Evans should be viewed as a real asset; he has put up very solid numbers this season, and is on a cap-friendly contract in the final year of his deal next season as the cap jumps. The target position and approximate age remains the same as for the prior two questions. Go wing shopping; maybe roll the dice on a younger, less proven but reasonably high upside wing along with another older guy at a different position to make the salaries work.

  1. If you could turn Eric Gordon’s expiring into longer term contracts of not great players (Kevin Martin, Lou Williams, etc.) would you do that at the expense of flexibility this summer?

MM: I would be tempted, because I don’t think the Pelicans are going to be in the hunt for any quality free agents this summer. If I could get a guy or two on shorter deals that can help on the wings for a few years while I develop some younger guys, I might do it. I think Lou Williams and Kevin Martin, for example could be good 3rd guards for this team – better than Gordon has been. I would also turn him into Rudy Gay, if Sacto reconsidered that proposal. Rodney Stuckey, in a down year, would tempt me as well. As would Derrick Rose, Marco Belinelli, and even Wilson Chandler if they wanted to dump that contract.

JM: I would because I agree with Mac that I don’t think the Pelicans make moves in free agency this offseason. Getting value for him now would ensure the team simply doesn’t lose that on court production next year. It’s a similar situation as Anderson.

CR: I am a big fan of trading Eric Gordon to a team that is going all in this year. Most of those trades, include players with who also have one year on their deal but are hurt or starting to struggle (to the Chicago Bulls for Joakim Noah and Tony Snell or to the Charlotte Bobcats for Nicolas Batum.) There is a trade involving the Oklahoma City Thunder, which nets the Pelicans Kyle Singler, Anthony Morrow and a combination of the Cameron Payne, Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis trio that would have me not mind the added salary. Especially since the added long-term salary would be at good rates as the cap increases. Similarly to Anderson, I either want a more rounded-less specialized player, or younger players that can grow.

JC: Not a chance. That cap space can be used in multiple ways, and I’d take my chances with Dell’s creativity there than with a known “average” deal when the core of this team is in flux or just not going to form.

MG: I wouldn’t, because I just don’t see the point. Cap space doesn’t have nearly as much value this summer as it has had in years past because of the number of teams who will have it, but why bring on players who won’t really move the needle? I’d rather trade him for another under-performing expiring who Dell thinks may be a better fit than Gordon alongside Jrue and AD.

  1. Lastly, make your prediction. What trades, if any, will the Pelicans make before the deadline?

MM: I think Dell makes a small move, adding a rotation player for one (or multiple) 2nd round pick. The tough part will be matching the salaries, but in general, I think he adds another wing that is going unused elsewhere. Someone like Anthony Morrow, Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson, Nick Young – someone like that.

JM: I think Dell Demps truly believes this roster can make the playoffs and mostly stands pat. Not moving Anderson or Gordon could hurt the long term future of the team, but Demps’ seat has to be warm and job security may be more important to him. If I had to predict something big, I’d say Anderson gets moved to Houston for some combination of guys that nets a wing in return.

CR: If the Pelicans stay at this proximity around the trade deadline, they will use it to sell hope and do a Norris Cole/Quincy Pondexter kind of deal (maybe involving sending Cole away this time) in order to get a player that better fits the short term with little to no long-term ramifications. If the Pelicans slip further behind them, I think some team is going to give too good an offer for Ryan Anderson to not make that trade (Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons coming to mind), and that may lead to another domino or two falling (Evans and/or Gordon.) For while Demps’ seat may be hot, if he is claimed the winner in a few trades, it may buy him time he doesn’t otherwise have if the team is losing (look at the nationally praised Ish Smith trade.)

JC: I’m looking for Anderson to get moved to a team that is under-performing some benchmark, has some nerdy GM, or fit both criteria. Houston fits the bill, which fits with Jake. Toronto has a GM that might like Ryno as they have been looking for a forward for a while as they chase Cleveland for the right to lose in the Finals. The return will feature a small forward, a small power forward, or a center.

MG: Dell only trades Anderson if he gets blown away by an offer. As far as Gordon is concerned, I don’t think he gets moved either (because of both his injury and his salary), but one “dark horse” team to watch is Portland. I think they’ll likely look to use their cap space in a more productive way, but if they want to continue to ride their current hot streak and try to improve their roster for the playoffs without giving anything else up, don’t rule out Gordon to the Blazers for a 2nd round pick.


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