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Trade Machine Madness: Clearing the Books for the Pelicans

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Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson could be moved for cap space. Unlikely, but let's have a look anyways.

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The trade machine on ESPN.com is probably the single best piece of content available on their website. For the next 2+ months, it will also be one of the most frequented. NBA Trade Season is upon us, and there are few better options to preoccupy our minds than that humble little trade gizmo.

Last week, a couple writers emphasized patience when building around Anthony Davis. The trade I discuss below does not exercise such restraint. While a couple of players I design to trade for would require patience to see the full return, the goal in mind is not this season. It is this summer.

The 2015 free agent class is stocked with restricted free agents that might fit in well with the Pelicans. Kawhi Leonard (the dream, but isn't going to happen), Jimmy Butler (close to Kawhi status), Tobias Harris, and Iman Shumpert all could be at the top of most New Orleans fan wish lists. Other unrestricted options include Jeff Green, Wesley Matthews, and Danny Green. Who ultimately fills the salary space created at this point is less important than discussing how to create that space.

The Trade

LOL

There is a lot to chew on in this massive four team trade.

Detroit's POV

As reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News, discussions between Sacramento and Detroit on Josh Smith have hung up on the relative talent headed back to Detroit. Sacramento does not have a lot of attractive players on contracts to make the deal work.

The Sacramento Kings are still interested in Smith, a source told The Detroit News. The man with final say, Van Gundy, turned down the Kings proposal over the summer — one that amounted to a pu pu platter of talent relative to Smith's, as he wanted a chance to see if he could unlock all of Smith's versatility and turn it into consistency.

Smith has gotten off to a slow start, although he had his best game of the season in Sacramento on Saturday night, with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks — in front of Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, the man who was behind acquiring Smith from the start.

Certainly Smith's slow start hasn't raised his trade value, but is Van Gundy ready to give up on Smith and take less back in return, for more unknowns?

In my proposed trade, Detroit turns Josh Smith (who doesn't fit) and Greg Monroe (who doesn't fit and is about to walk this summer) into a stretch four in Anderson and Eric Gordon. Gordon has not shown the versatility of Smoove, but his contract is one year shorter. Van Gundy is asking for a first round pick for Monroe according to some reports. This haul involves no first round pick; thus, expect Detroit to be the first team that likely balks at the deal.

Phoenix's Perspective

The Suns are in a bit of a tailspin, although a trip to Charlotte last night finally ended a six game losing streak. Phoenix might decline, but the relatively low cost of T.J. Warren to get a proven talent like Monroe may be too good to pass up.

Phoenix is one of the few teams who could hypothetically re-sign Monroe next season to a lucrative (although unlikely to be the max) contract without his Bird Rights. Warren has logged just 107 minutes this season and did not get off the bench against the Hornets.

Sacramento is Unpredictable

No clue. None. Remember this? (Skip to 6:35)

Now, that same owner wants to trade for Josh Smith. Vivek Ranadive, owner of the Kings, really wanted Nik Stauskas. Stauskas happens to play the same position as Ben McLemore.

If I was running the Kings, would I want to trade Derrick Williams and Ben McLemore for Josh Smith? Goodness no...that is absurd even to type. Would the brain trust of Ranadive and GM Pete D'Alessandro consider it? Umm... maybe?

Crescent City View

I know, almost all of you hate it already. I do not, in the least, expect Dell Demps to pursue such a trade. He is much more confident in the current core constructed than I, although most folks believe me to be quite the Demps apologist.

As I have stated, this trade is more about cap space this summer than the acquired players. Let me show you the summer of '15 books if this fantasy trade were to occur.

Umm

New Orleans trades two well-defined players (Anderson and Gordon) for a box of question marks (McLemore and Warren) and cap space. Oodles of cap space. The Pelicans could offer a free agent this summer a four year, $72.5 million dollar offer sheet. Gordon Hayward's "max" offer from Charlotte as a restricted free agent was four years, $62.9 million. Sufficient enough to offer top dollar for Leonard, Butler, or whomever is the object of your heart's desire.

Likelihood

Less than 0.00001%. Big trades with multiple parts such as this are incredibly difficult to pull off. Detroit's front office remains a question mark. Phoenix appears to be too conservative. Sacramento is difficult for even the most tuned in folks to predict. Most importantly, Dell Demps is a fan of the team he has assembled. This is in large part because he is the one who built it, and the current roster has yet to play together over the course of a full season.

While Demps has admitted to missteps (declining the fourth year for Austin Rivers), this would be entirely different. However, when examining it closely, the deal still fits with his stated mantra of building around young veterans. McLemore has shown signs of development. Warren is an older rookie. Both provide shooting on the wing opposite Tyreke Evans.

Yeah, this trade machine scenario won't happen, but it would be really interesting if it did. The Pelicans could radically change their roster and become major players in free agency before the start of next season. At the very least, one has to imagine the Pelicans would make for an interesting destination to Leonard or Butler. It would be hard to turn down a promising young lineup, let alone Anthony Davis.