Most trade rumors swirling around the Pelicans involve power forward Ryan Anderson. Many people believe that the best move New Orleans can make would be to trade him for a more rounded big man.
However, I have to disagree. Though Anderson certainly is a liability on the defensive side of the ball, he has been one of the few consistent producers for the Pelicans. For a team apparently not interested in a rebuild or maybe even a step or two back, where is the logic?
Anderson is the Pelicans’ second leading scorer with 16.8 PPG in 31 minutes, he has the highest offensive rating (109 compared to Anthony Davis’ 106) out of players who have played 10 or more games, he produces the third most points per 100 possessions (26.8, behind Davis and Jrue Holiday respectively), and he has the third highest true shooting percentage.
The Flame Thrower is one of the few offensive threats that the Pelicans have outside of Davis and he adds a new dimension to the offense when he is on the court. Bench scoring is vital in the NBA, and without any viable replacement on the roster, New Orleans could end up doing more harm than good by moving him to another team.
Not to mention, Anderson has one of the few cap friendly contracts on the team, and with the salary cap set to explode, he could be potentially be signed to another friendly deal provided he's willing to give New Orleans a discount.
Yes, the Pelicans are going through both growing and literal pains. Though the Pelicans’ defense is terrible, trading one of their most valuable players is not the answer. Removing weapons from Alvin Gentry's disposal would further spiral the direction of the team for all parties involved.
I believe that the Pelicans have to make a serious move if they want to reach their potential, but it cannot be an impulse move. Anderson is regarded as one of the team's captains and is normally the voice heard in the majority of interviews outside of Davis.
If the Pelicans are going to make a trade it has to focus on one of three problem areas: 1) acquiring a small forward who can play on both sides of the ball. 2) landing a defensive big man (hopefully including Asik or one of our guards.) or 3) freeing up cap space for this summer in hopes of signing a big name free agent.
Anderson may not be the perfect player, but he is one of the best that we have and he comes off of the bench. If the Pelicans are going to trade Anderson it has to be for a very good reason.