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Pelicans face long playoff odds as NBA trade season is about to open

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Might Dell Demps find a taker for Omer Asik?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are watching as their playoff odds continue to drop. ESPN has reduced their odds from 3.3% last week to 1%. Their odds have fallen according to all four websites we track. As I mentioned last week the schedule is about to become incredibly unkind. The Pelicans face three more games to end the week, all against teams above .500, and two of those are on the road versus the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. New Orleans has not won on the road in either Houston or San Antonio since 2014 and sports a combined six game losing streak.

Pelicans Playoff Odds - December 14, 2016

Website PROJ W PROJ L Playoff % Draft Position
Website PROJ W PROJ L Playoff % Draft Position
ESPN BPI 30 52 1.0% 6th
Basketball Reference 30.5 51.5 1.1% 5th
Five Thirty Eight 29 53 4.0% 5th
numberFire 32.4 49.6 3.7% 5th

On the plus side, the NBA trading season is about to pick up. The NBA Trade Machine is ready for your great trades to rebuild the Pelicans in your preferred image. Thus far the only real rumor around New Orleans is that center Omer Asik has been made very available according to CSNNE.

Finding a taker for Asik is going to be difficult, but not necessarily impossible. One sensible option might be the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are looking for front court help according to Brian Windhorst on the TrueHoop podcast. Minnesota has struggled to execute the defensive schemes of new head coach Tom Thibodeau, ranking 27th in defensive rating as of this morning on NBA Stats. What better way to jump start the defense than reuniting Thibodeau with Asik.

Thibodeau loved Asik in Chicago according to reports and held long term frustration with the Bulls front office for letting the big man walk in free agency.

Thibodeau never got over management letting Omer Asik and Kyle Korver leave for nothing, took months to sign his contract extension and bristled at management's imposing of minute restrictions for Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich this season.

Depending on what additional assets the Timberwolves might request, a trade of Omer Asik for Cole Aldrich could make sense for both teams. Aldirch is logging just 13 minutes a game in Minnesota and the defense is actually worse with him on the floor. While their salaries are close enough now to make the trade happen Aldrich is guaranteed just $7.3 million after this year (his 2018-19 season is unguaranteed until 6/20/18) while Asik has over $24.8 million guaranteed over the next three seasons. That difference in salary commitment ($17.5 million) is likely to cost far more than just a second round pick or two. Unless Thibodeau really wants Omer Asik.

Far fetched? Probably. Any trade moving Asik is going to sound far fetched until one happens. Put me in the camp which believes it is highly unlikely the Pelicans move his contract before the trade deadline this year. And, in the case they do, oh boy will the cost sound prohibitive.