Last night Ken Berger of CBS Sports wrote that most of the free agent market is currently in a holding pattern. Too many teams (Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, the Lakers) are waiting for answers from the Big Three in Miami or Carmelo Anthony for anything else significant to happen. The expectation is that whatever Dell Demps has planned is centered around the aftermath of those decisions; when the market will heat up tremendously and agreements will be announced much more frequently.
I am impatient. Jen Hale tweeted this five whole days ago.
We have heard no new word since.
As I outlined after the trade was announced, the Pelicans have a couple options to make Omer Asik's contract fit. Ideally a trade would be constructed as a three team trade so that the Pelicans could maintain the Mid Level Exception and Bi-Annual Exception. Instead I want to focus on two separate trades, one to create a trade exception and then the Asik trade itself.
Warning: Trading one of these players for the package in return will be incredibly unpopular. This is done deliberately, as I wanted to create a trade unpalatable enough that Pelican fans would believe it is actually possible. If every Pelican fan is immediately on board with a trade it sends up the "this is probably robbing the trade partner" red flag.
There are some interesting things going on in Wisconsin. First, the team was sold to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens in April. On draft night Milwaukee refused to over think things and selected Jabari Parker with the second overall selection. Then everything got completely and utterly insane with the Jason Kidd fiasco. Also, there is one important quote from current GM John Hammond on the timetable for the Bucks to rebuild.
Hammond on @1250WSSP : "The worst thing for us...is to try to get in a hurry right now + try to win as many gms as we possible can next yr."— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) June 27, 2014
The trade I am about to suggest probably makes the Bucks better, and it definitely eases some of the scoring load off Jabari Parker's shoulders.
Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon to Milwaukee for O.J. Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Khris Middleton.
I know, you hate me already. I would like for you to hear me out.
Milwaukee, from what I have read, feels that both O.J. Mayo and Ersan Ilyasova are overpaid. Obviously those of us here believe that Eric Gordon is overpaid, although blame can shift from Gordon himself to things well beyond his own control. Getting around to Ryan Anderson most any move that trades him is going to be incredibly unpopular with me. However, the market for Anderson, if the rumors are to be believed, is still quite high.
Cap Space and Flexibility
This deal, fundamentally, is about cutting costs and injecting more potential depth into New Orleans. Mayo and Ilyasova are both 27, while Middleton is 23. All three players are capable shooters behind the arc. Importantly, with a core of Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis, and Omer Asik the incoming players would not be expected to lift a particularly heavy load. Let's take a look at the cap after this deal is consummated. For fun, I have included the Pelicans signing C.J. Miles to a two year, $9.2 Million contract in free agency. His deal is designed to take New Orleans right up to the salary cap.
I suspect many will be led to believe that this is a low upside method of roster building. Most of these players are known commodities in the NBA, and their flaws have been discovered for all to see. Focus, instead, on the average age of this roster. 24.6 years old. That would be the fourth youngest roster in the entire NBA last season.
Every single guard and wing on the roster can shoot from behind the arc except Tyreke Evans. Both the first and second string power forwards (AD and Ilyasova) are threats to at least 18 feet, if not further. If the Pelicans wanted to they could still use the Room Exception (beginning at $2.7M) to bring in another rotation piece.
Going forward, the team would have plenty of room below the luxury tax next season to retain Omer Asik (assuming he pairs well with Anthony Davis) and use the Mid Level Exception and Bi Annual Exception if New Orleans wanted to do so. In year three AD's extension will kick in. I put in the guaranteed amount of Ilyasova's contract, if NOLA wanted to bring him back on that contract the actual cost is $8.4M. All salary information, as always, comes from Sham Sports.
Hoping for the Best
I will be honest, I remain concerned. Concerned that either Eric Gordon is going to be stretched (have you seen his Twitter feed the past two days?) or that a much less palatable trade is coming down soon. A trade just to get enough cap space for Asik's contract is going to dramatically diminish any flexibility to add depth this season. The next move is coming; I feel like a Southerner hearing the Starks tell me that Winter is Coming. I worry that it may be awful, but I have no idea how much so.