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NBA Trade Scenario: Pelicans score Terrence Jones, help facilitate Dwight Howard to the Knicks

From Behind the Bar: Open Trade Season Part 5

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In this three-teamer, Houston moves it’s reportedly disgruntled (always disgruntled) superstar (?), giving him another shot at bright-lights in a big city. Houston also gets to plug some holes in their own roster while becoming an even worse defense than the Pelicans currently field. Anthony Davis gets reunited with some familiar faces, and we get two of my favorite below-the-radar players.

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Note: The Knicks send Houston their 2016 and their 2018 1st round picks both top 5 protected.

Why the Pelicans do it:

This is mainly a move on from the Omer Asik era. It had a few promising peaks, but it’s mostly been a letdown.

The Pelicans bring back Robin Lopez whom many Pels’ fans wish they had never lost. Personally, I think Lopez is just okay and unspectacular. I’m certainly not in love with his contract, but I believe his consistent mediocrity is better than the sometimes amazing defender/rebounder, but mostly awful offensive player with back issues that we get in Omer Asik. It’s sort of my problem with Anderson — he’ll have nights where he’s 8/10 from deep, but he’ll also have a five game stretch where he’s shooting 25% from beyond the arc. Sometimes just being solid, reliable and perfectly average is better than the occasional outburst of greatness.

I really like Kyle O’Quinn as a reserve big man. He’s got a reliable jumper, he’s a good passer from the post, rebounds well, isn’t a liability on defense and he’s on a great contract. He’s not imposingly tall, but he’s solid enough to man the 5 spot.

I’ve over-discussed K.J. McDaniels at this point, so let’s focus on Terrence Jones. Like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in one of our previous trade discussions, Jones was a college teammate of Anthony Davis’. Jones could be a reserve four or the starter if Lopez is moved in a secondary deal so that the Pelicans can go small with AD at center. Either way, he’d surely log 25+ minutes a game.

Jones is a good athlete that has pretty good range on his jumper. Houston has really worked with him to expand his range, and each year in the league he’s made great leaps in his three point percentage. His rookie year he was shooting 26.3% from beyond the arc, by last season he had jumped to 35.1% and so far this year he’s at a very good 40.5%. This kind of growth and his athleticism makes him more desirable to me than Anderson at this point in their careers. I’m not really sure why there are rumblings that Houston wants to flip him. It surely must be an economic thing. Jones is not a great defender, but it isn’t like he’s replacing a lockdown player on our roster.

This isn’t a golden ticket deal for the Pelicans, but it does turn an expiring that is likely to walk at the end of the year into four players that add value and specific skillsets to your squad — most of them on good contracts.

Why the Rockets do it:

If the rumors are true, Howard and James Harden are at odds. If you look at both players history, it’s easy to believe that Howard is disgruntled, jealous and causing locker room issues. If you had to choose between these two players it’s pretty easy to pick the younger guy with way less mileage on his body, who hasn’t dealt with major injuries, who is extremely marketable, who can’t opt out of his contract in the offseason and who hasn’t demanded his way out of two franchises already — you keep Harden it’s a no-brainer. The most desirable part of this trade for the Rockets will certainly be the draft picks, but they do pick up a few decent roster pieces and remove a potential cancer.

Ryan Anderson is the posterchild for stretch fours. Houston loves the three, Ryan loves them too — even if he’s 27’ from the basket with two men on him.

Asik had the best year of his career in Houston before they landed Howard. Asik gave them 10 and 10 every night and played solid defense. He also turned himself into a 1st round pick courtesy of the Pelicans. They almost owe him a spot on their team. If he can get healthy, and clear up whatever mental breakdowns are causing his amazing inability to provide any kind of offense (and these are big ifs) the Rockets will have replaced Howard serviceably at a fraction of the cost.

Jose Calderon is a terrible defender, but he’s a good shooter and reliable facilitator to go alongside Harden or backup Beverley — and he becomes an expiring in the summer. At the very least, he offsets the Ty Lawson disaster.

Derrick Williams will never live up to his draft status, but he isn’t to blame for bad scouting. He’s a decent player with some athleticism who can do a little of everything at a good enough rate to earn minutes on any team. If you need him to be your 2nd or 3rd option, you are in bad shape. Houston doesn’t need him to be that. Also, like Calderon he becomes an expiring in the offseason.

Why the Knicks do it:

New York needs to make a move because Carmelo Anthony is getting old, and they struck gold with Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks need another big time player in order to seriously contend before Anthony begins his decline.

They lose Calderon, but in the triangle — and I know they don’t truly run a triangle — the point isn’t as important as it is in other schemes, but they can shift more to the triangle with Langston Galloway or Jerian Grant taking over at the 1.

If they get the good and motivated Dwight Howard, they have created a very lethal frontline. When you can trot out Anthony, Howard and Porzingis, that’s quite imposing. Afflalo also gets some help defensively with Howard on board and Calderon in Houston.

The Knicks finally hit on a draft pick, but because they are married to Anthony they can’t continue to build through the draft. This move guarantees those picks aren’t in the lottery anyway, so the damage done by moving them is lessened.