Last week, Markieff Morris trade rumors began to heat up. It was revealed that the Houston Rockets - a longtime Morris admirer - were interested in trading for the disgruntled forward. Then, in the middle of the day, Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania wrote an article on how another team began to express interest in Morris. That team, of course, was the New Orleans Pelicans.
We discussed the Morris fit, as some were fans of the move, while other has questions about the move. What we did know? The potential acquisition of Morris meant the end of Ryan Anderson's tenure in New Orleans, as he was mentioned as the key piece going back to Phoenix in a trade. From there, we discussed some of the smaller details of the swap, such as Morris' reputation as a malcontent and whether the Pelicans have to obtain a first round pick out of the deal.
I wanted to talk about the other side.
Ryan Anderson is a pretty tough player to trade for the Pelicans. The discussion among the Bird Writers conglomerate began to discuss trade rumors away from the original Morris-Anderson swap and we came away with deals we liked, but they always leaned on too much or too little for New Orleans, which meant it probably wouldn't happen. Trades usually look like that on paper before they go down, though. Maybe someone really likes Ryan Anderson.
Personally, I wish Anderson had another year on his contract, as I wanted to see him and Davis play the four-five combination more. I feel like it could work more than just in spurts with more time and better defenders on the perimeter. And with Alexis Ajinca signed for a nice, reasonable contract for a backup center and the idea of Anderson and Davis as starters with Ajinca able to come in and move Davis to the four against larger, beefier fives was something I opined for as the losses began to rack up.
Part of it has to do with Anderson's appealing profile. In the midst of a career year, Anderson is providing the Pelicans with another floor spacer who can hold down offense in a handful of possessions. He's rebounding well to start the season, but he's never been great at rebounding, landing with a rebound rate around 11 percent or so. His turnover rate has jumped to 10 percent, after years of being around seven percent. That, combined with his price tag ($8 million) makes Anderson a pretty desirable player.
However, Anderson is entering free agency after this season and that kind of player is pretty valuable. Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus even mentioned that Anderson could be in line for a max contract offer, which sounds insane on the surface, but the cap is going up. Without that additional year of value, it hurts what the Pelicans can get back in a trade, enough so, that fans may not like the return for him. Also, he's a bad defender, which also hurts his value a bit, but also makes his fit tough for New Orleans and other teams.
In a perfect world, Anderson is off to Memphis to join the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies need someone who can create some space on offense and Anderson fits that to a T. Not only does he do that, but he also takes off some of the pressure off some of the guys who expected to space the floor and the Gasol/Anderson combination would be deadly on both sides as Gasol can hold it down on defense and both of their offensive games and the spots they operate at could also open space for cutters.
But who are the Grizzlies giving up? Jeff Green and Jordan Adams? I'm not sure they'd bite, even though that deal makes some sense for both sides and would make more if Adams was actually playing at this time - sidelined with knee surgery. Personally, I'm a fan of something like Anderson to Phoenix for Markieff Morris, but with Archie Goodwin as a chip over the draft pick. Toronto also briefly intrigued me as an Anderson suitor, but I can't envision a rotation player coming back, nor the asset to attach with it.
There are some other teams that could use Anderson, but I'm not sure if they have the assets. The Miami Heat could use Anderson's scoring and spacing prowess and have the big men - Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside - to cover him defensively. The Milwaukee Bucks have an enticing group of young players, but they seem destined for the lottery and moving future assets for three or four months of Ryan Anderson is shortsighted. I always thought the Washington Wizards would be a good fit for Anderson. Portland acquiring Anderson would be fun, but they need a rim protector more than anything. The Pelicans aren't without suitors for Anderson.
The thinking in any Ryan Anderson trade is that you need to get a decent asset in return.
With Eric Gordon becoming a free agent this summer and the duo of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday reaching free agency in 2017, the Pelicans will have some players and minutes to replace. Adams would give them a young guard who might be able to stretch the floor under a rookie deal. Goodwin, on the verge of a contract extension, could be someone the Pelicans can test to see if he can improve over a larger sample and sign to a team-friendly extension. Archie can't space the floor, but he has the ability to attack the basket and get to the line.
I couldn't tell you if Ryan Anderson is going to be traded in the near future. It makes more sense for the Pelicans to wait and see who expresses interest, rather than jumping on the first trade.
However, if the Pelicans do decide to go and trade Anderson, then the main goal should be acquiring a long-term asset - I would perfer someone who can play defense in the backcourt - who can serve in a necessary role moving forward.