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Answering the question of whether the New Orleans Pelicans should be buyers or sellers

The Pelicans remain in the thick of the race for a 2017 playoff spot, but a looming trade deadline will force the franchise to make a key decision soon.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans enter the All-Star break on a high, finishing with a 3-1 record on a 4-game road trip. Considering they sit just 2.5 games out of the 8th spot in the Western Conference, would you prefer New Orleans continues to strive for a postseason appearance or should they become sellers before the trade deadline and exclusively focus on the future?

Jason: Seller

I understand that as athletes, they all want to compete night in and night out (or they should at least.) However, what is the payout? A first round sweep against the Western Conference All-Stars sans Russell Westbrook? To add to it, New Orleans would have to sacrifice partaking in a very enviable draft lottery. Look, being the eight seed is a lose-lose situation, and if it means the Pelicans don't move on from Alvin Gentry or Dell Demps, it might be a lose-lose-lose-lose situation!

Instead of wasting time, effort and the future by making this postseason, the Pelicans should be focusing on finding suitors for Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca and perhaps Solomon Hill — even though he did just help immensely in getting the victory versus the Grizzlies. Then in the coming off-season, the team would have more cap space to chase someone who will take the pressure of off Anthony Davis to carry an entire organization, possibly resign Jrue Holiday and a have shot at one of the many promising prospects in a draft that may wind up being comparable to the '03 class.

Kevin: Stand pat

This team is certainly flawed. I'm all for playoff pushes, but in a year that will certainly produce a sub .500 8th seed in the West, is that really the pillar we want to hang our hats on?

Not me, not anymore.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans-Press Conference Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A turd of a playoff appearance may just save some people who shouldn't be saved. Dell Demps has done some good, but perhaps as much bad as the Pelicans' GM — the results have been one legitimate playoff appearance and a lot of bad basketball. This is on the heels of two coaches, two philosophies and two roster restructurings. It's time for a major change at the top.

That's the problem, though. While we should be sellers — or at least, movers and shakers, is Dell the right man to do the selling? I'd move obvious pieces for sure, but I'm wary of letting Dell Demps and Alvin Gentry reshape this roster in their latest vision.

Chris: Stand pat

This is a tough question.

On the one hand, the players have pride and other incentives to win and play their best until the bitter end. On the other, it is better for the future of the franchise to miss the playoffs and get a high pick in a draft loaded with talent.

The problem is Gentry and Dell will not tank intentionally because they will probably be without jobs if the Pels miss the playoffs by a wide margin. This was the issue I had with not replacing Demps after last season because he was allowed to go on and sign a player like Hill to a big contract. Do we want him to have the keys to the Pels roster at this trade deadline, which could be his last?

Hopefully, there are some checks and balances in place that will prevent the front office from making any moves that would be near-sighted, hurting the long term. I think the Pels should play out the season with the roster they have, unless they are able to jump in as a third team on a trade in which they can acquire a draft pick or even dump some salary, and let the dominos fall where they may.

Jamile: Seller

This season has been over for a while now. Even if they do make the playoffs they likely won't have a winning record. So to answer the question, i'd prefer to wave the white flag and try to collect a couple assets before the deadline or possibly dump some salary.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Of course General Disarray (aka Alvin Gentry) is fighting to keep his job so I don't think he'll be amiable to tanking unless he's guaranteed to remain next season. Alas, we may not have to really worry about this because the team might be bad enough that they will likely limp to the finish line and claim close to a top 5 pick in this year’s draft.

Zach: Seller

This is tough, but I think I'd rather New Orleans calm themselves and think beyond getting smoked by the Golden State Warriors in round one.

There are absolutely benefits for trying to chase down the 8th seed: more playoff experience for Davis, getting Hield and future members of the roster a taste of postseason action, and getting that 8-seed probably builds a better culture for New Orleans which can't be ignored. But, I think now's not the time.

Long-term, I think the franchise would be better served punting on the last 25 games and acquiring any and every kind of asset that would improve the organization down the road.

Oleh: Smart Buyer

The ideal scenario entails the Pelicans to draft a game-changer in the upcoming draft, add more help in free agency and find a way to eliminate some of the dead weight from the roster. Problem is we don’t live in some fantasy world.

First of all, fans need to realize free agency has not once yielded in a bonafide player during the Demps’ era, so aiming to clear cap space at the cost of future assets seems ridiculous to me. Two, in how well the Pelicans finish the season and add any certifiable help before the trade deadline may have a significant bearing on Jrue Holiday’s decision to return to New Orleans. It is absolutely paramount the team retains their second biggest star because he is practically irreplaceable given the team’s constraints in free agency. Lastly, the upcoming draft is so stocked in talent that the Pelicans are bound to end up with good help — needing to strive for a few extra losses doesn’t seem as important as in years past.

As Zach just alluded to above, I think it’s vital New Orleans continues to try and figure things out between now and the end of the season. We can largely expect the same central cast to return so any real improvements on next season need to begin right now, which include but are not limited to further development of Davis and Holiday’s leadership roles and overall stronger offensive continuity and fluidity. Any white flag promotions would be probable to hinder that effort and likely wind up acting as a step back or two before next training camp.

So, I say yes to a trade that improves the team in the immediate future so long as it makes just as much if not more sense for the future as well. For instance, giving up two first-round picks for Brook Lopez wouldn’t be the correct path, but buying relatively low on another helpful body absolutely would be.

Fernando: Buyer

I would rather see the team continue to forge ahead for the simple fact that we need Jrue Holiday to re-sign with the Pelicans, In keeping Holiday past the trade deadline, though, one is almost assured of a late lottery pick, so in that case, it’s probably best from an organizational standpoint to fight for the last playoff seeding.

Brett: Seller

At this point, what value is there in making the No. 8 seed just to be swept by the Golden State Warriors?

There is a little value, but not much. One caveat is that it may indicate the Pelicans are headed in the right direction, and, from that, help to draw free agents. But overall, the allure of a lottery pick is a lot more tantalizing at this point for a team still ‘several’ steps from contention. This draft is fairly deep, and the Pelicans have needs at all positions except the 1 and 4 spots. The better the pick, the better the options available.

Simply claiming that No. 8 seed did not transpire to much two seasons ago. Wherefore comes the notion that this year would be any different? Lottery, please.

Travis: Buyer

I'm a little more masochistic, or maybe it's selfish (?), than the rest of the group, I imagine. I like winning. I think winning makes the team feel better now and might lead to better things; losing is like a disease and I'd rather that AD not contract anything nasty for the long-term.

I completely understand the "lose now in order to win later" argument and it seems pretty proven in terms of likelihood that a higher draft pick will net a better player. So, although I should know better by now, I'll say I want them to win as many games as possible and make that 8 seed.

David: Stand Pat

New Orleans is not going to sell, regardless of whether they should sell. So, in the absence of that option I would prefer them to do nothing. The rumored offers for Jahlil Okafor and Brook Lopez both include the 2018 first round pick. Please no. Why let Dell Demps, who might not even be the GM three months from now, trade another first round pick? At least keep assets on hand so his replacement might have more available to change the direction of this team in May, June, and July.

I don’t see any allure as a fan to this team making the playoffs. Tom Benson cashing two more home games isn’t changing the relative investment in the franchise. Trading future assets hamstrings the next regime. Playoffs aren’t drawing free agents. Moving out of the lottery and losing another asset eliminates any dream of landing a top pick in the draft, or moving that pick for an actual difference maker. Just sit tight and ride it out.

The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching. What should the New Orleans Pelicans do?

Posted by The Bird Writes on Thursday, January 12, 2017