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NBA Trade Scenario: Pelicans add Joe Johnson and Terrence Jones, help Houston move on from Ty Lawson

Sometimes your best ideas on the Trade Machine come by accident.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets appear to be turning a corner, winners of 12 of their last 20 games after a 4-7 start cost Kevin McHale his job. Still, in true Daryl Morey fashion the team is thoroughly involved in nearly every trade rumor. Ty Lawson is on the trade block according to reports and Terrence Jones was linked to a potential trade for Markieff Morris. This is what happens when the title window is supposed to be open but a team finds themselves with the seventh best record in the conference.

Over at The Dream Shake, the SB Nation Rockets blog, their sights appear set on the New Orleans Pelicans own Ryan Anderson. Anderson has been linked to Houston for ages as one of the preeminent stretch fours in the league. It makes complete sense over at TDS, where his fit in Moreyball has their writers absolutely drooling.  A James Harden-Dwight Howard pick and roll with Ryno stretching the floor in the corners? Sign them up!

Anderson is a career 38 percent shooter from deep and takes over 5 threes per game. He's one of the league's premiere stretch fours and would be ideal around Harden and Howard. Like Lopez, he does struggle as a defender, but he'd be coming to Houston as the likely top scorer behind Harden and would automatically become the team's best shooter (sorry, Marcus Thornton).

Alvin Gentry's start in New Orleans has gone poorly to be generous. At the heart of things is a roster that does not seem to fit together well. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson could both be traded by the deadline and there is reasonable concern such a trade will sacrifice future flexibility for wins in the present. However, what if Dell Demps could have his cake and eat it too?


Why Houston does it

Fit and chemistry. Ty Lawson hasn't worked out and the franchise yearns for a stretch four. It doesn't get much better than Ryan Anderson. Between Anderson and Jarrett Jack the Rockets gain two consummate professionals in a locker room that is in need of basic leadership. Anderson can easily pair with any current Rocket big man; Howard, Clint Capela, or Donatas Motiejunas. Jack can play with Harden or Patrick Beverley and will be steady if not spectacular.

Why the Brooklyn Nets do it

The Nets do not own their first round draft pick this season. They have every reason to trade expiring contracts like Joe Johnson to get better in the here and now if it does not cost them the future. Not only do they add better fitting pieces in Ty Lawson and Eric Gordon, they shed the last year of Jarrett Jack's contract. Lawson's final season is not guaranteed so if he fails miserably the Nets can cut bait; if it works out well they have the control to keep him around on a reasonable contract.

In Gordon the Nets add a willing shooter to a roster that needs the space. No team attempts fewer 3-pointers than Brooklyn. Gordon attempts over half of his shots behind the arc this season, continuing an upward trend over the last three years. Gordon (27) and Lawson (28) also fit nicely into the core players Billy King has brought in.

Why the Pelicans do it

Lineup flexibility. Right now the Pelicans don't have a small forward, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon are nearly unplayable together, and their small ball options with Anthony Davis at center lack rebounding. Johnson would immediately slide into the starting small forward spot allowing Quincy Pondexter to ease back into playing time. Jones provides more rebounding punch than Anderson does along with much better defense.

More importantly, the Pelicans move two expiring contracts without sacrificing flexibility this summer or beyond. Johnson will either sign for a much more reasonable sum or the Pelicans renounce his cap hold creating quite a bit of cap space.  Anderson's cap hold this summer is $12.75M; Jones clocks in at only $5.7M as a restricted free agent. Another team could sign Jones to a massive contract but New Orleans would have until July 14th to match an offer. The dust will have mostly settled by then, allowing the Pelicans to use the cap space available if possible.

Eventually when healthy Alvin Gentry could move the rotation around to really take advantage of each player's strengths. A starting lineup of Jrue Holiday, Quincy Pondexter, Joe Johnson, Anthony Davis, and Omer Asik would be miles better defensively than what we're seeing right now. Tyreke Evans, Terrence Jones, Norris Cole, Alexis Ajinca, and Alonzo Gee or Dante Cunningham would form a formidable bench while putting Evans in a position to succeed. How does a small ball lineup of Holiday, Evans, Johnson, Jones, and Davis sound? If Tyreke continues to fail to conform he can be moved out for more shooting with Pondexter taking his place.

Providing all of that without a significant sacrifice to future flexibility? That's just icing on the cake. Eat up Mr. Demps.