With the NBA trade deadline just a little over six weeks away, it’s time to start pondering potential targets for the New Orleans Pelicans. Let’s kick things off with a cursory glance across the landscape and pinpoint several names that should be of interest to General Manager Dell Demps.
Which position on the roster has the greatest need and name a player the front office should chase before the trade deadline. (Let's keep it to realistic scenarios.)
Kevin: Kyle O’Quinn, Richaun Holmes or Nerlens Noel
The choice has to be between a big or a wing — and really that could be solved with a single player, but with Darius Miller emerging, E’Twaun Moore doing a fine job at the three and Solomon Hill’s return inching closer, I’d say a backup big is more crucial.
Jamile: Jonathon Simmons
Those whispers you're hearing is the Pels 2018 1st round draft pick being auctioned off across the league. There is a 0% chance that Dell Demps and the current regime go down without firing the last bullet in the chamber.
Losing Solomon Hill seems to have had at least a small effect on the Pelicans defense. Hill's solid but not spectacular: his defensive dirty work was often overshadowed by the house of horrors that is his offensive game.
While the Pelicans could definitely use some front court help to spell their bigs, I'm going to go in another direction. I'd like to see Dell target Jonathon Simmons, once he's available to be traded later this season.
Simmons has the defensive tenacity that New Orleans really needs on the wing. He's also willing to make the extra pass — which of course is the mantra (at least in theory) of the Gentry era Pelicans.
An added bonus is Simmons growing confidence and aggressiveness on the offensive end. He's shooting a respectable 34.5% from three and drawing 4.3 free throw attempts per game, that's twice as many as Jrue Holiday, by the way.
The Magic are fading fast, and at age 28, Simmons isn't really in the ideal age range for a rebuilding lottery team. The Magic would be much better off trading Simmons to add another pick to their coffers to aid in their never ending rebuild.
Preston: Stanley Johnson
Small forward is an area of concern Pels' fans are quite familiar with. When did we last have a legitimate above average starting three? Trevor Ariza?
I would like to see the Pelicans chase Stanley Johnson. I believe he has a great deal of upside that he hasn't yet reached in Detroit and could do the things he does best for New Orleans: Play great defense and move without the basketball. A player like Rajon Rondo could truly lift Stanley to heights he will never experience alongside Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris.
Oleh: DeMarre Carroll or James Ennis
The Pelicans biggest area of need is a larger wing who can guard multiple positions. Dante Cunningham has been listed as questionable during at least several games — might be time to worry about an underlying issue, Tony Allen is already walking the unreliable path, and we’ve got no guarantee Solomon Hill can return to form quickly enough or even at all for the rest of the regular season.
With New Orleans not interested in adding too much future salary to the next cap sheet and beyond, there’s two names that immediately come to mind: DeMarre Carroll, who has been on my radar since the offseason, has proven a useful defensive player again in the league, and James Ennis III is a known quantity to Head Coach Alvin Gentry. Both of these players should be on the market considering their respective teams are not playoff bound.
Travis: Marvin Williams
I’d like to see another guy like Dante Cunningham, someone who will slide to the 4 in minutes with only one of the twin towers. Might Marvin Williams be available on the cheap?
Who are some players you would like to see the Pelicans front office chase before the deadline?