The New Orleans Pelicans need to start selling off pieces of this roster for future assets. Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, shooting threats on expiring contracts, are the most logical pieces to move first. Teams challenging for the playoffs are those buying as the trade deadline approaches while those who are looking to the future are the sellers. More shooting is a hot commodity for teams bound for the playoffs looking to raise their potential ceiling.
Pelican fans are hoping for first round picks, so let's talk about possible trade partners. There are far fewer than you might think. Beginning at the top of the standings and working down.
- Golden State Warriors - Nope
- San Antonio Spurs - Nope
- Cleveland Cavaliers - Already traded their first round pick, owned by the Phoenix Suns
- Oklahoma City Thunder - Already traded their first round pick, owned by the Philadelphia 76ers
- Los Angeles Clippers - Already traded their 2017 first round pick (to Toronto), so they cannot trade their 2016 per the Ted Stepien Rule
- Toronto Raptors - Potential partner
- Atlanta Hawks - Potential partner
- Chicago Bulls - Potential partner (History of not trading at the deadline)
- Miami Heat - Already traded their first round pick, owned by the Philadelphia 76ers
- Indiana Pacers - Potential partner
- Dallas Mavericks - Already traded their first round pick, owned by the Boston Celtics
- Detroit Pistons - Potential partner
- Orlando Magic - Potential partner
- Memphis Grizzlies - Already traded their first round pick, Denver Nuggets "own" it but protections are unique (1-5 and 15-30).
- Houston Rockets - Already traded their first round pick, owned by the Denver Nuggets
- Utah Jazz - Potential partner
- Boston Celtics - Potential partner
- New York Knicks - Already traded their first round pick, owned by the Toronto Raptors
- Sacramento Kings - Already traded their first round picks through 2018. No,seriously.
- Portland Trail Blazers - Already traded their first round pick, owned by the Denver Nuggets but lottery protected
So there are only eight potential partners among the teams challenging for a playoff spot. Boston and Toronto, with multiple 2016 picks available, stand out as the most desirable trade partners. They are also run by two of the most revered general managers in Danny Ainge and Masai Ujiri. Men who have taken the long view on building their respective rosters. Do you trust Dell Demps negotiating with Ainge or Ujiri?
Fit is difficult with the remaining teams. Do the Bulls need a shooting guard when they have Jimmy Butler? Or Ryan Anderson to take minutes from Nikola Mirotic? The Jazz might want Eric Gordon, but good luck building a trade that works and Dennis Lindsey would accept. Stan Van Gundy in Detroit has a history with Ryan Anderson but two stretch four options already on hand in Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver.
Atlanta has better options at power forward (Paul Millsap, favorite of yours truly way back in 2013) and shooting guard (Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore). So we come down to the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers last traded a first round pick in July 2013, sending their 2014 first round pick (eventually Bogdan Bogdanovic), Gerald Green, and Miles Plumlee (their 2012 first round pick) to the Phoenix Suns for a 33-year old Luis Scola.