The Miami Heat are trading forward Jarnell Stokes to the New Orleans Pelicans, league source tells The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 18, 2016
The Pelicans landed the 35th pick from the 2014 NBA draft largely because the Heat are looking to cut salary in an effort to get below the luxury tax line before the end of the season.
Miami will save $2.1m in luxury tax with the Jarnell Stokes trade to New Orleans. The Heat are now $2.6m above the tax.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 18, 2016
Miami kicks in $700,000-plus in cash to New Orleans for Pelicans to take in Jarnell Stokes and reduce Heat tax bill by a further $2 million— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 18, 2016
Fortunately, it appears the Pelicans did not send any significant asset to the Heat in return.
Jarnell Stokes has been traded to New Orleans for a highly protected pick that Miami likely never will cash in The Sun Sentinel confirmed— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 18, 2016
Jarnell Stokes has only appeared in 144 minutes during his first two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies and Heat. He is a slightly undersized power forward with traditional range, but his athleticism makes up for his size deficiencies. This excerpt is from the Grizzly Bear Blues:
Stokes is a slightly smaller version of Randolph who is solid on offense. If he were to ever reach his full potential, he has the ability to become a potential starter in the NBA. Stokes is undersized at 6'8", but has the ability to hang with most athletic big men in the league.
Although his time in the NBA has been limited, he has garnered plenty of experience in the D-League. In his rookie season with the Iowa Energy, he averaged 15.1 points and 11.3 rebounds. This season his numbers have jumped with the Sioux Falls Skyforce to 24.0 points and 11.9 rebounds. Courtesy of Basketball Reference, he currently sports the highest PER in the D-league (30.9), the highest TS% (68.7%), second best offensive rating (134.2) and fourth best defensive rating (100.2).
It's painful obvious the D-League doesn't present much of a challenge to Stokes, and it will be interesting to monitor if the Pelicans think highly enough of him to give him an extended look during the remaining 29 games on the schedule.
The Pelicans are now down to just one available roster spot, so Bryce Dejean-Jones return to the team could be in serious danger if New Orleans adds another player to their roster without sending out an equal number in return in another deal.