Speculation remains rampant with New Orleans still not having filled the space created by the roster casualties of Miller and Young. Read what some of our writers think will happen next.
Generally speaking, it is really difficult to get inside the mind of two GMs and predict a trade. Add in the possibility of a three or four team trade and it becomes downright impossible. We can, however, look at the Pelicans situation and rule out certain pieces and zero in on others that may be tradeable assets.
The Pelicans have a payroll that does not allow much flexibility for a trade without including a core piece of the team. They have a handful of players making under $1MM for the year, Austin River making about $2.5MM and Salmons making $2MM. After that, the salaries jump to Asik and Anderson both making over $8MM this season. So, the Pelicans are in a precarious position because if a trade target is making $5MM, the Pels would have to either trade Rivers with a couple other smaller contracts, which would decimate the already poor bench or a player like Ryno would need to be traded and the Pels take back some salary.
As has been pointed out by other Pelicans aficionados, the Pelicans two best trade chips are Ryan Anderson (NOOOOO!!!!) and Tyreke Evans (NO?!). I think Dell would most likely move one of those two pieces, possibly even with Rivers, to acquire a player that moves the needle for the Pels this season. As much as it pains me, trading Ryno now may be the time where the Pels can get the best return. Coming off serious injury and not looking quite himself, when Ryno is not hitting his shots, he is a liability.
The one positive, however, is if the Pels trade Ryno, I believe they would receive a difference maker in return. The Pels, the fans base and the staff all think so highly of Ryno, that I do not believe Dell would trade him for a middle of the road type of player. Ryno is a luxury player. If a team does not have the necessary components to succeed, the luxury will be wasted.
The hole in the Pels roster was created by Gordon's max contract and the lack of production (now that Gordon is injured) they are receiving from $15MM per year. Take that money and spread it out over two players and we are not having this conversation. Alas, that is not the reality we are living in and the injury to Gordon and the Pels lackluster play since, have created an anxiety among the Pels and their fans, so much so, the possibility of trading Ryno has become a reality.
I believe that Tyreke is more difficult to move because of his larger/longer contract and the perception of Reke around the league. He is also a niche player that needs to be in the right situation to succeed whereas Ryno could be used by any team that feels they are a stretch 4 away from making the playoffs or contending. I just ask one thing Dell, if you are going to do this (trade Ryno) please just get it over with quickly.
I think that Dell Demps is revisiting a discussion he had with Stan Van Gundy last summer: a trade of Ryan Anderson for Greg Monroe. Monroe may not appear to fill a need for the Pelicans to almost everyone. Here is some data.
AD/Asik - 238 Minutes
AD/Anderson - 261 Minutes
Asik/Anderson - 87 Minutes
The Pelicans have 25 two man groups that have played at least 80 minutes together. Only eight are posting a negative net rating. Six of those eight feature Ryan Anderson. The worst is Anderson/Asik, posting a -15.3 Net Rating.
The three big rotation felt like a good idea to myself and quite a few national bloggers; however, it's time to admit It just isn't working out in practice. While Anderson provides so much on offense, he has taken at least that much away on defense.
To that point, the Pelicans are better when Anderson is on the bench (+3.2) than on the court (-0.8). A lot of that is schematic in my estimation. Monty has Anderson defending centers much of the time to save AD. The team therefore has absolutely no rim protection. Asking Anderson to do things he cannot and then getting upset about it is the definition of insane.
Nico pointed out in a recent article, the Pelicans have a choice to make on how to build around AD. If Demps can pry Monroe (who is leaving Detroit after this season regardless, while he is a good player the Pistons know this and will be more pliable to moving him) and something else (a pick or a competent wing) out of the Pistons, I think that is the move.
Monroe, while not a traditional rim protector, has the size and length to do so at a much more effective rate than Anderson. In addition, Monroe is a superior rebounder and could function a the focal point of the second unit on offense. It is important to note that Monroe can veto any trade since he signed the qualifying offer, is a New Orleans native, and the Pelicans would not have his Bird Rights if they traded for him.
New Orleans will effectively audition two very different center options beside AD. I seriously doubt they re-sign both Asik and Monroe. Hopefully the other piece received from Detroit is also helpful. This move would also create some additional flexibility next summer. Reinvesting the cap space taken by Anderson into a couple players could create the depth necessary to compete long-term.
My favorite realistic possibility would be the Pelicans sending Ryan Anderson back to Orlando for Tobais Harris plus a contract filler (Ben Gordon or Channing Frye), however I explored that possibility extensively in my latest piece so i'll go a different direction here.
How about Ben McLemore and Carl Landry + a pick for Ryan Anderson ? If I'm Sacramento's GM, I would pay out of the nose for Ryno because he is a perfect fit alongside DeMarcus Cousins, and a Sacramento native (don't think that won't matter to Sacramento's owner). If Sac is the trade partner, I wouldn't be surprised if Dell could squeeze even more out of the deal. I thought about adding Austin Rivers and Darren Collison to the trade but Collison can't be traded until after December 15th because he was a free agent this past summer. I can't see why you would release Miller that early given the depth issues on this team, if you planned to wait until December 15th to seal the deal.
This deal would give Sacramento an awesome inside/outside combo with Cousins and Ryno making them a near lock for the playoffs in my opinion. The Pelicans would get some added depth and scoring for their bench. McLemore is an improving young player and is showing a nice touch from the outside, sinking 41.3% of his three point shots, while attempting 4.5 three's a game. His defense is also not to shabby for a second year player, sporting a 100.9 defensive rating. I would expect him to continue improving in that area of his game. Carl Landry is a capable veteran scorer that the Pelicans bench really needs. Landry has two years remaining on his contract after this season at a manageable 6.7 million per, which is a very movable contract for a player with Landry's skill set.
While it's not my favorite deal, this trade provides the Pels with the depth and bench scoring they need while also giving them good upside for the future.
While I fantasize and somewhat fear that these moves mean a major deal that will change the shape of the Western Conference playoff race is in the works, I really think this is going to be much ado about nothing.
I believe these moves get us a reserve PF (Dante Cunningham) that Monty Williams is comfortable with at a bargain price and allows us to play Ryan Anderson at small forward spot either as a starter or for much longer stretches of time. It's also a sign that the organization has just given up on Darius Miller and will now look to sign another bargain-basement player for a one-year audition.
I'm thinking Dell will look overseas for help (maybe Jordan Crawford, but more than likely a foreign player) or who knows, maybe he'll try to get the disabled player exemption and make a run at Ray Allen.
I honestly believe this panic over Ryan Anderson being traded is just jumping to conclusions. It seems to me that he not only has the a skill set, but also a personality that is integral to the type of team Dell and Monty are building. A Rivers move seems a little more likely, but I'm not sure he's bringing much back other than a player with a larger contract that a tanking team or a team with a lot of redundant players wants to dump (which can only happen if it's a 1-year deal and we get the exemption for Gordon).
Initially, I wrote a really long-winded idea centered around Ryan Anderson, explaining his oft rumors and why his value is so high. Then I realized I couldn't find a trade that was mutually beneficial between the Pelicans and another team and met our short and long term goals. For instance, I enjoyed Jamile's piece because I'm fond of Tobias/Frye but just can't envision it happening.
Thus, lets move on to Austin Rivers. Since I don't see a scenario where he stays, it might be wise to trade him before he leaves this summer.
My favorite but very realistic trade would be a Iman Shumpert for Austin Rivers straight up swap. Shumpert is unlikely to be re-signed by the Knicks as well. He is an inconsistent offensive player but a versatile defender, who can guard the 1, 2 or 3. This Pelican team needs perimeter defense!
Predicting what Dell, or any GM for that matter, will do is like predicting the weather: objective facts give you an idea of what to expect but more often than not, the weather just screws up your perfectly valid assumptions, theories and models.
I never expected a lot of his big moves -- Anderson, Holiday, Evans -- all of them didn't even make a whiff of sense to me. Practically, the only one that did somewhat was the Asik trade, although that did create a large salary problem for us (i.e. my last article).
Logistically speaking, I smell a small fish trade. Say Middleton or Dudley from Milwaukee makes the most sense to me right now, so let's go with that.
If there is one thing we've learned, Dell Demps pulls rabbits out of hats like no other. He seems to live by one of Dr. Dre's famous lines, "drops bombs like Hiroshima." Consequently, pegging his next move is akin to a shot in the dark.
However, both Demps and Monty Williams backgrounds give us a ray of light. It is well known, the Spurs envy a defensive stopper on the wing and thus disciples of their program would too. First came Bruce Bowen and now they have Kawhi Leonard, where Popovich even gave up a personal favorite in George Hill.
In the past, New Orleans traded for Trevor Ariza, but since his departure, Monty has had many sleepless nights. As this season has shown, it's high time to fill the void at SF. However, since core pieces aren't cheap and don't grow on trees, Demps will have to perform a little magic.
In my opinion, a package centered around Ryan Anderson for PJ Tucker and one of Archie Goodwin/TJ Warren makes a good deal of sense. Since Channing Frye's departure, the Suns have not been able to fill the void on the perimeter. Although Markieff Morris is having a nice year, he fails to stretch the floor for their team. Considering, the Suns have three speedy guards who like to get to the rim, this is a problem for Jeff Hornacek. Ryno would solve that problem and then some.
For the Pelicans, Monty would get his defensive bulldog in Tucker. Since PJ is a bit older than the rest of the core though, and to make salaries work with Anderson, Phoenix would throw in one of TJ Warren or Archie Goodwin for our future.
Since PJ Tucker was signed this past summer, he won't be eligible to be traded until December 15th. Demps has to wait, but in preparation for the deal, he has set his eyes on signing Dante Cunningham now to provide backup minutes to Anthony Davis at the power forward position for once Anderson is moved.