Since our last trade machine adventure the Pelicans are a surprising 5-5. The defense has finally tightened the screws a little bit, allowing only 93.5 points per game over the last seven, compiling a 5-2 record in that span. Digging even deeper over this stretch, the Pelicans' Defensive Rating has been 100.5 -- 4th best in the last two weeks according to NBA Stats. Of course, over that span, the Pelicans have played some horrendous offensive teams, headlined by Chicago, Orlando, and Cleveland. And if you mess around with that NBA Stats link, you will find that the Pelican pace of 92.35 is third slowest in the NBA; just ahead of Chicago and Memphis. All of this to say that the Pelicans have firmly established that even without Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, and Jason Smith, they are in the murky morass of better than terrible but not actually good. What better time to advocate blowing the whole thing up? Let's do this!
Trade Machine Fun!
This is only a test of the trade machine warning. Please understand that the staff at The Bird Writes simply throws stuff at a wall and sees if it sticks. This is so far down the totem pole it lies below "trade rumors". This is only a test.
Despite some rumors swirling that Greg Monroe could be on the trade block, reports out of Detroit have been emphatic that Greg Monroe is not on the table. So of course I will base my trade on bringing the Helen Cox High School graduate (15 minute drive from the arena!) back home to New Orleans. According to Draft Express, Monroe was 6'11" with a 7'2.5" wingspan and weighed 247 pounds at the 2010 NBA combine. He is currently listed at 250 pounds -- all this to say he can play center.
Well, Smith is going to be difficult to move. And Drummond has shown far too much promise (I would state he is the second best player out of the 2012 Draft - yes, ahead of Damian Lillard) to be moved at all.
Enter the Pelicans to help: ESPN NBA Trade Machine
This is a big ask for me as a fan. I love three point shots and Ryan Anderson is really good at making a whole slew of them. However, I also think Eric Gordon is terribly overpaid. This is not to say that he is a bad basketball player or that I'm mad about the "heart in Phoenix" stuff. Not at all. If he was going to make $10M next season instead of $15M, I would not be advocating trading him. Also, if that were the case he would have likely already be traded due to the overlap of skills between him and Evans/Holiday (beside the point of today's exercise, though).
Assumptions - Jason Smith, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Brian Roberts, Greg Stiemsma are not resigned. Al-Farouq Aminu is resigned for 2 years, $10 Million. Darius Miller resigns for qualifying offer. Greg Monroe offered max extension in restricted free agency, which New Orleans matches.
Current projection is $62.5 million. RT @Flaco3027 what is the cap for 2014-15 season?— Larry Coon (@LarryCoon) July 10, 2013
The problem then becomes how to utilize that $9 Million in cap space. The wing free agent class this summer is pretty weak. Would you pay Lance Stephenson $9 Million? Is that even enough? Do you go after Luol Deng? Evan Turner? Even if this all came to pass (terribly unlikely I know) the 2014 class is not very deep on the wings. LeBron, Carmelo, Wade are not considering coming to New Orleans. Gordon Hayward, Evan Turner, and Avery Bradley are all restricted. So then the options turn into Stephenson (how much of his success is due to the team surrounding him?), Luol Deng (highest of mileage), Danny Granger (mileage plus injury history), Andrei Kirilenko (age, mileage, desire to come to New Orleans, etc), and Thabo Sefolosha (does he give OKC a hometown discount?).
Is this a terrible move for the Pelicans to consider? What would you do with that cap space? Would Detroit consider this trade? (Yes, it locks them up financially this summer to the MLE alone, but only this summer.) Have another idea to shake up the Pelicans? Let's see it in the comments!