this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; With the NBA trade deadline nearly a month away, the New Orleans Pelicans front office&mdash;specifically general manager Dell Demps&mdash;has some work to do. Well, more work, that is. Austin Rivers was dealt to the Boston Celtics as a part of ...
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|01-12-2015, 05:36 AM||#1|
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New Orleans Pelicans' 2015 Trade Deadline Shopping List
With the NBA trade deadline nearly a month away, the New Orleans Pelicans front office—specifically general manager Dell Demps—has some work to do.
Well, more work, that is.
Austin Rivers was dealt to the Boston Celtics as a part of a three-team trade on Jan. 11. The deal, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, sent Jeff Green and a future first-round pick from Boston to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Tayshaun Prince.
The Pelicans wound up with 26-year-old shooting guard Quincy Pondexter, who played his rookie year in New Orleans before being traded to the Grizz.
“Trades happen, and you have to go and work, regardless of what’s going on on the outside,” Ryan Anderson said of the Rivers deal, via Darrell Williams of The Advocate (Baton Rouge).
The 18-18 Pels have struggled to distance themselves from the .500 mark all year. Anthony Davis has been spectacular, but with a playoff spot as this season’s ultimate goal, New Orleans could benefit from some shaking up.
Each of the following moves stands on its own—this isn’t a master plan that’s being laid out. It's a shopping list of individual transactions that would strengthen the ‘Cans both now and down the road.
Backup Point Guard
New Orleans gets: Jose Calderon
New York Knicks get: future second-round pick
Jrue Holiday is the only point guard on this team.
Tyreke Evans and Pondexter are swingmen. Eric Gordon and Jimmer Fredette are shooting guards. Russ Smith could be chalked up as a point, but he’s not NBA-ready. Not yet, at least.
Holiday is the team’s second-most valuable player on both ends. With the 24-year-old on the floor, the Pelicans improve in shooting percentage, rebounding, steals, blocks, turnovers, points scored and points allowed, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Ball-handling duties are widely distributed when Holiday (34.2 minutes per game) sits, and the team suffers both offensively and defensively due to the lack of a true backup.
The New York Knicks are in full-on tank mode. Phil Jackson sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert—two respectable role players—to the Cleveland Cavaliers for, essentially, a second-round pick in 2019. The Knicks’ goal for 2014-15 is no longer winning or earning a playoff berth. Instead, it's creating cap space for next summer’s free agent class.
“With the Knicks now owners of the worst record and perhaps worst roster in the league as [Jackson] hits the reset button in New York, league sources say the next player on the move could be point guard Jose Calderon,” CBS Sports’ Ken Berger wrote on Jan. 6. “But at age 33 with two years and more than $15 million left on his contract, that will be a difficult proposition.”
New Orleans, however, is looking to win now. Sure, the team will have room to grow over the next two or three years, but Davis is set to hit free restricted agency in the summer of 2015-16. It’s time to start contending.
The Pelicans entered the season tied for the fourth-youngest roster in the league with an average of 24.9 years old. John Salmons, now, 35, is the only player whose age exceeds 28.
Clearly, Calderon’s lack of youth wouldn’t be an issue on this team. If anything, the Pels would likely benefit from the addition of a veteran.
Draft picks are valuable assets for sure, but dishing one out would be a worthy sacrifice in this instance. New Orleans is young at its core and, despite some debts, will still have nine selections between now and 2020 (five in Round 1) before any deals are made.
As Berger alluded to, the nine-year veteran is overpaid. He’s averaging 9.2 points (40 percent) and 4.2 assists for the floundering Knicks. But going from a basketball wasteland to a team with growing, young talent would certainly boost his numbers.
Calderon would take some pressure off Holiday and serve as the floor general for a second unit that desperately needs help. The ‘Cans are averaging just 32.9 points off the bench, which gives them a league-rank of 18th, per HoopsStats.
Adding depth, scoring, ball-handling and leadership without losing anything of much value? This is a no-brainer.
New Orleans gets: Chris Copeland
Indiana Pacers get: John Salmons, Jeff Withey, future second-round pick
Despite having one of the league’s premier three-point shooters in Ryan Anderson, the Pelicans rank 21st in team percentage from downtown.
Luke Babbitt is right behind Kyle Korver for the league-lead in individual three-point percentage, too, which is an indictment of how poorly the rest of the team has shot.
Anderson has carried the bench all year, though he's hit just 34.9 percent of his threes. The 26-year-old is averaging 15.5 points and 5.2 boards, reaching 20-plus points 11 times.
But he needs help.
As mentioned earlier, there’s a significant drop in production when coach Monty Williams goes to the bench. Sending Salmons, Withey and a future pick to the Pacers for Copeland would give New Orleans the extra boost it needs off the bench.
Copeland, a versatile 6’9” stretch-4, would bring shooting and rebounding to a frontcourt that’s thin beyond Davis, Anderson and Omer Asik.
In his first two pro seasons, Copeland shot 42 percent from three-point land and 52.2 percent from inside the arc. This year, he’s shooting just 36.7 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from long range—but that’s what makes him attainable.
Sometimes, in business and in basketball, buying low has its benefits. Copeland has proven that he can hit shots from distance before, and sharing the floor with Davis and/or Anderson, who has steadily improved his post-game, would provide all kinds of open looks.
Why would Indiana bite, though? Salmons, Copeland and Withey are all expiring contracts, so the real value is the second-round pick.
Instead of letting Copeland walk next summer, the Pacers will instead be getting something in return.
Withey has had a difficult time cracking Williams’ rotation in New Orleans, but he’s a big body and an aggressive shot blocker. If Roy Hibbert leaves Indy this offseason, the team could be starved for an interior presence.
There’s no sense for the Pacers’ front office to put too much pressure on this season. With Paul George still recovering from that gruesome leg injury, the franchise’s sight needs to be set on next year and beyond.
According to Nakia Hogan of NOLA.com, the ‘Cans are probably going to hold onto Gordon. Here’s what Hogan wrote in late November:
Although, at times, it appears as if Eric Gordon is an odd cog with the Pelicans, the front office and coaching staff still believe Gordon is a key piece to the team.The team has a decent amount of future draft stock. Davis, Anderson, Holiday, Evans, Smith and Gordon are the only players signed through next year for a combined number close to $53 million.
New Orleans is in decent long-term shape. It’s important not to throw that out the window simply to ditch Gordon’s onerous deal. In all likelihood, an offer that features talent comparable to Gordon isn’t going to come knocking.
If all else fails, Demps and the front office can’t panic. The roster could definitely use some reinforcements, but the trade market isn’t the only avenue.
The Developmental League is stocked with NBA-ready talent. The ever-changing pool of free agents is another bona fide place to look.
However it gets done, the Pelicans do need to get better.
With a few minor improvements, specifically in point guard depth and three-point shooting, New Orleans will have a better chance of earning its first playoff berth since 2010-11.
All stats are accurate of as Jan. 11 courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com. Contract/draft information from HoopsHype and RealGM was also used.
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