Now that the dust is beginning to settle we can take a look at everything the Pelicans did yesterday more clearly. Dell Demps actually swung two different trades. The first, primarily for Norris Cole from the Miami Heat, we have covered from two different angles already. Oleh has what Cole may bring to the Pelicans in the next 29 games here. I took a look at what the trade deadline maneuvers might mean for the future in this post.
There was another trade, with the Oklahoma City Thunder. New Orleans Advocate reporter Scott Kushner was the first to report the trade while Royce Young of ESPN confirmed it later. Here is the Pelicans press release on the trade for Ish Smith. That move put the roster at 16 players. Shortly after the Pelicans announced that Smith would be waived.
The trade for Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, and Shawne Williams took longer to solidify as each were initially reported to be on their way to Phoenix. The press release announcing the trade can be found here. Pelicans.com writer Jim Eichenhofer has published pieces on Norris Cole (here) and Justin Hamilton (here) already this morning. Cole sticking around was a given, Hamilton will as well. There is still not any official word on Williams although Adrian Wojnarowski reported he would be bought out soon after the trade was announced.
New Orleans plans to buyout the contract of Shawne Williams, league source tells Yahoo Sports. That adds another good shooter to market.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2015
Credits and Debits
So let's have a look at everything that changed hands in terms of the Pelicans yesterday.
Credits: Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, Ish Smith (bought out), Shawne Williams (reported to be bought out soon), rights to Latavious Williams, 2015 Second Round Pick from OKC, cash considerations (from Miami), cash considerations (from OKC)
Debits: John Salmons, 2016 Second Round Pick to OKC
OKC also announces Ish Smith, 2015 protected second, rights to Latavious Williams + cash sent to Pels for a protected 2016 second rounder.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 20, 2015
Latavious Williams is the first player ever to go straight from high school to the D-League. He is currently 25 years old and playing for Bilbao Basket in Spain according to his Wikipedia page. Euroleague.net has no statistics for him this season. Dell Demps has a history of bringing older Americans back from Europe; Brian Roberts was 27 when he came to New Orleans. However, Williams is unlikely to contribute to the Pelicans anytime soon. Expect him to be on the summer league team in July.
Justin Hamilton is an interesting case. He's now a center on a team with plenty of them in Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, and Jeff Withey. Since he went to LSU there will undoubtedly be a portion of the fan base who clamors for him to be utilized. I just don't see it.
Let's add to our pile, the results of the trade of Quincy Pondexter.
Credits: Quincy Pondexter, 2015 Second Round Pick from Memphis
Debits: Austin Rivers, Russ Smith
Now, with who we know has been bought out here is the final tally.
Credits: Quincy Pondexter, Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, 2015 2nd Round Pick from Memphis, 2015 2nd Round Pick from OKC (Protected), cash considerations (from Miami), cash considerations (from OKC)
Debits: John Salmons, Austin Rivers, Russ Smith, 2016 2nd Round pick to OKC (Protected)
Grading the Trades
I will not link to the various grades. Suffice to say, all three trades are viewed negatively throughout the media. I will tell you that is a load of crap. The Pelicans received superior assets in each case compared to the ones they sent out.
Of the three NBA players traded out only Russ Smith (potential) had any real value beyond helping salaries match. Quincy Pondexter has already demonstrated his usefulness in just 16 games. Norris Cole, if he can return to his previous form, is an upgrade. If he does not, the Pelicans traded a non-contributing bench player on an expiring contract for another one. Not a downgrade at all. Just not an upgrade.
It appears that every grade, instead, is about if this deal made the Pelicans an immediate playoff contender. Every trade cannot accomplish that goal. Neither of these trade did so and no writer here or at Bourbon Street Shots has insinuated as much. Every upgrade is not a massive one, but is still an upgrade nonetheless. Two of these trades qualify.
The third, the OKC one, is simply Demps making money for his boss because he could. The business side of this franchise is still necessary. In each of the past three years the franchise has increased profitability while decreasing ticket costs. As fans we should see that as a good thing (especially the lower ticket prices!) for the long term viability of the franchise.
Quincy Pondexter is on a steal of a contract. He's going to be here a while. Norris Cole is auditioning for the reserve point guard role, one he admirably filled while in Miami. If he does well it would not shock me if he is retained this summer. Austin Rivers and John Salmons were not going to be here next year at all.
The space between where the Pelicans were at this point last season and being a playoff team (rather than a playoff contender) is vast. A number of people have come into this year in a playoffs or bust mode. I am not one of those people. The measuring stick of success is different for different people.
My personal goals for this season are mostly dashed. Not because of the record, but because my biggest hope was that Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis would play a ton of minutes together and become the number one and number two (or number one and number three with two to be determined later) options on this team. Despite that, reaching the expected finish by most (43 wins, 10th in the West) is still within reach.
Over the next 29 games I hope the remaining Pelicans can stay roughly healthy and they can win some games. Even the hope for health at this point feels too much to ask.