There are a number of players from the 2010 NBA Draft who will become restricted free agents this summer. John Wall, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George and Larry Sanders agreed to contract extensions this summer. Wall and George of the maximum five year variety, Cousins of the maximum four year variety, and Favors (4/$48M) and Sanders (4/$44M) came to terms slightly less than the maximum. A number of lottery picks from that class have not worked out at all - Wesley Johnson (selected 4th), Al-Farouq Aminu (selected 8th), Cole Aldrich (selected 11th) and Xavier Henry (selected 12th) will all be unrestricted free agents.
However, there are a few restricted free agents from the 2010 class who are in interesting situations. Evan Turner (selected 2nd) was just traded to Indiana in Philadelphia's fire sale. Turner is a middling shooter from distance, making his talents undesirable for the Pelicans. Greg Monroe (selected 7th) is at a crossroads in Detroit. Specifically, can he, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith coexist? If not, who is going to go? (Hint, it won't be Drummond.) Gordon Hayward (selected 9th) has improved as a ball distributor (see Basketball Reference and take note of his increasing AST%), but his shooting efficiency has taken a tumble this season. Eric Bledsoe (selected 18th) and Avery Bradley (selected 19th) seem to be locks to stay in Phoenix and Boston respectively.
Pursuing any of these players present difficulties two-fold. One, extracting restricted free agents requires over-payment. Two, the Pelicans do not have the cap space necessary to realistically sign any of these players outright. Now the option of a sign and trade complicates things tremendously. The Pelicans ideally will be able to pay less (although they still must outbid 29 other teams for the individual's service) for the individual player but then must pay their previous team in assets or players, increasing the cost.
If you remember my Sunday Trade Machine article focused on Greg Monroe, this next part is not going to be a surprise. Monroe has been a favorite of mine for quite a while. He has the requisite size to play center, operates out of the high post efficiently (check out the 18.6% AST% last year) and is a New Orleans native. With some strategic tanking (or lottery luck) the Pistons could keep their pick from Charlotte as it is top eight protected. With 25 wins, Detroit is in 8th according to Tankathon -- in position to keep their pick. If the Pistons select top three (currently a 9.9% chance of happening), Parker or Wiggins will be their selection, practically requiring them to move either Josh Smith or Greg Monroe. Enter Dell Demps.
In a scenario where Detroit has Brandon Jennings, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, Josh Smith, and Andre Drummond. Their obvious needs are SG and more shooting, as the team is currently 29th in the NBA in 3PT percentage. New Orleans, in their pursuit of Greg Monroe, can provide both of these things. A trade built around Monroe (at a maximum extension) and Jonas Jerekbo (has a $4.5M player option for 14-15, is only playing 8.6 MPG this season) for Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson works for both teams.
Detroit gets a shooting guard and a tremendous improvement from behind the arc while New Orleans acquires the center the front office wants alongside Anthony Davis. Jerekbo in this deal is just salary fodder. Mind you, the Pelicans would continue to have the full MLE and Bi-Annual Exception to bring in talent. To demonstrate, here is the Pelican salary cap situation if they execute this trade along with the rest of the free agency plan above.
Not a bad idea when you look at all of it.
Tomorrow, I will examine other destinations for Eric Gordon. Part IV.