In this simple 2-team deal, the New Orleans Pelicans add a multi-faceted offensive center without sacrificing much rebounding, a player that the starting unit desperately needs. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks correct their ill-fated decision to pair up Greg Monroe with a group that desperately needed a defensive paint presence first and foremost.
Why the Pelicans do this
When Alvin Gentry interviewed for the New Orleans vacancy, he promised he could turn Omer Asik into an asset on both ends of the floor. Although the affable coach mentioned Asik in the same breath as Andrew Bogut, many didn't buy it but still believed he could be a net positive. As evidenced by the 2015-16 on/off statistics, it hasn't turned out that way, and the coaching staff knows this, hence Asik's 15.7 minutes per game average.
However, because they must play the hand that was dealt (Asik's contract cannot come off the bench), the coaches need to keep trotting out a starting lineup of Evans-Gordon-Gee-Davis-Asik. Despite a horrendous -13.3 net rating, this group has spent 110 minutes on the floor. They have given up 25 more points than they have scored themselves, all the while playing at a snail's pace (93.05 pace). This lineup makes no sense, and even less for an uptempo system.
Enter Greg Monroe, or as regular TBW readers know by heart, David Fisher's long-time fetish. By common standards, the former Harvey native is having a productive season: 15.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He has limitations and wouldn't likely move the needle on defense, but his inclusion among the likely starters would be sublime.
- Proven post game. Monroe averages 6.0 post touches and has a 62.5 FG%. The Pelicans have nothing similar, and worse, they have attempted time and again to force feed Anthony Davis on the block despite the poor results. Adding Monroe would be boon to the offense alone for this reason alone.
- Fantastic passer. Monroe has an assist percentage of 14.9% -- that's Bogut and DeMarcus Cousins territory. From day one, Gentry has stressed ball movement, so replacing Asik's 2.9% would do wonders for a team struggling with one of basic premises of the offense.
- Offensive put-backs. The Pelicans are ranked 28th in offensive rebounds. Monroe is very good at grabbing them and converting them into points, unlike someone else fans know all to well.
O.J Mayo comes to New Orleans to balance salaries and replace some of the lost offense with Eric Gordon's departure. Although the Pelicans lose valuable three-point shooting, Mayo would only be asked to function as a reserve as Jrue Holiday would move back into the starting lineup.
Why the Bucks do it
One needs to look no further than Milwaukee's 116.9 defensive rating of their starting lineup. That's insanely bad, but it should have been quite foreseeable. A starting frontcourt of Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe are unable to stop anyone thanks to a combined lack of girth and zero shot-blocking.
Last season, the Bucks were considered one of the best defensive units in the league. Although Zaza Pachulia, Jared Dudley and Ersan Ilyasova were not flashy, their veteran presence was responsible for locking down opponents. Without them, they've been a train wreck through 30 games this season, so Milwaukee needs to bring in a proven paint defender as soon as yesterday.
For instance, last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Bucks gave up 131 points. In an effort to improve the defense, they played Monroe only 20 minutes in hopes of John Henson providing better rim protection. He did manage 5 blocks, but the problem with playing the slender backup is rebounding. The Bucks are already one of the worst defensive rebounding teams when Monroe is on the floor, but without the Moose, they have no hope of regaining possession, barring a turnover, until the opponent's shot goes threw the rim.
Omer Asik would plug this enormous hole immediately. As Jonathan Tjarks wrote yesterday, Monroe is a bad fit in Milwaukee because he is being asked to guard opposing centers, shut down the lane and make up for Parker's deficiencies. Similar to how Pachulia functioned last season, Asik would be much better suited to handle all the defensive issues and his lack of a post-game would not cripple their offense. Unlike the Pelicans, the Bucks would have a bevy of players remaining who are able to score from the post area: Parker, Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Several years ago, there were rumors the Bucks were interested in Eric Gordon. Considering they are 28th in three-point attempts in 2015-16, they probably wouldn't mind kicking the tires on a prolific outside shooter, especially since he's now in the final year of his contract. If he works out, great, they'll have the cap space to sign him to a long-term deal after the season. If not, back to the drawing board -- the path they're going to have to follow anyways if O.J. Mayo remains in town.