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Six NBA trade proposals for the New Orleans Pelicans to jumpstart the future

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Being an NBA GM isn’t as easy as NBA2K MyGM Mode, but a controversial real estate mogul became President so…how about this scenario?

NBA: Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I must first mention that I do believe that Dell Demps is a better general manager than he’s perceived to be, but it is clear that his two plans to build around Anthony Davis have been failures. I’ve long opined that Davis was initially overrated defensively while being underrated offensively contributing to these failed builds. No matter the factors, it’s time to tear down as much of the damage as possible — including relieving Dell and his handpicked dear catastrophe waitress, Norv Turner Alvin Gentry, of their duties.

There is no such thing as an easy trade: teams are fearful of losing, overvalue their players, and salary cap constraints make many moves extremely tricky. However, I took the few assets the Pelicans have left and converted them into pieces and cap space that a new GM — perhaps, Sam Hinkie wingman, Sachin Gupta — can use to fix this broken foundation. Now for a game of cap space Mousetrap.

Pelicans’ Current Salary: $99,740,912

Trade 1:

http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine

New Orleans sends Jrue Holiday to the Utah Jazz for the worst of their 2017 first round picks (Utah has their own and Golden State’s pick).

Why New Orleans Does It:

Holiday is a very good combo guard that is an elite defender — especially when it comes to switching onto bigger players. Check out this highlight reel compiled by Shamit Dua (@FearTheBrown on Twitter) and appreciate how crafty Jrue is because you may not see it in a Pelicans’ uniform much longer.

Holiday is probably the team’s best asset outside of the 2017 1st round pick, which isn’t something you trade in a tanking scenario. He could be a piece to keep around Anthony Davis, but he does have question marks. Holiday is in the final year of his contract, and before this season, he had not put together any real memorable stretches of dynamic offensive basketball. He isn’t the playmaker that Tyreke Evans or Tim Frazier are, nor a fiery leader. Throughout his Pelicans’ tenure, he hasn’t been aggressive enough on the offensive end, especially attacking the basket.

However, since the Pelicans’ January 23rd takedown of the Cleveland Cavaliers — which may have coincided with his decision to rock wristbands (maybe the league should test them for PEDs) — Jrue has been everything you would want from a scorer. Still, is this sustainable or is this some contract-year surge after the team has proven non-playoff worthy? We don’t have an answer because we haven’t had the privilege of enjoying a long period of a healthy Holiday to really gauge his norm. Also, we need to wonder if Jrue even wants to return to New Orleans, and the price it would cost to bring him back.

Removing as many splotches as possible from the current regime would give the new roster’s artist a cleaner palette to paint with. Ensuring that an overpay is out of the question and adding a second 1st round pick in a deep draft would more easily allow a new general manger to build a roster that fits their own philosophy.

Why Utah Does It:

The Jazz are potentially built to upset the top dogs in the West. They have a collection of bigs that will eat up the glass like a high Stephen Jackson — munching on gummy bears and pink popcorn to Cypress Hill after he passed his drug test — against the smaller Warriors. However, their point guard depth after George Hill is pretty dismal. Also, Rodney Hood suffered an injury that could hamper him for a few weeks.

Holiday’s presence would shore up Utah’s rotation at the one, while also keeping the Jazz afloat during Hood’s absence. It also gives them Holiday’s bird rights allowing them to decide if he or Hill — who is also on an expiring — are the better option going forward. Utah is in such good financial shape that they can absorb Holiday’s contract without having to send a player back, keeping their core intact. Also, adding Holiday should prove to Gordon Hayward that the Jazz are willing to spend and provide a real chance for him to win as he will surely opt out of his contract this offseason.

Trade 2:

http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine

New Orleans sends Terrence Jones to Toronto for their 2018 2nd round pick.

Why New Orleans Does It:

Terrence Jones has resurrected his value as a serviceable big man in the league. However, New Orleans does not own valuable bird rights, thus making it a crapshoot to retain his services — moving him now cashes in on the value he’s created. It also allows the Pels to send him to a team with a large payroll while not having to take any salary back. This move could upset Anthony Davis in the short term, but he’s locked into a contract until 2019-20 so the front office has time to make it up to him. Also, sending Jones to one of the best teams in the league is not doing him a disservice. The Pelicans pick up a 2nd rounder that will be used later in another deal.

Why Toronto Does It:

It’s hard to say that the Raptors are thin upfront when they have Jared Sullinger on their roster, but if there is an area of weakness on that roster, it is at the four and five spot. By absorbing a minimum salary and giving away a late 2nd round pick, the Raptors add a solid big to improve their odds at making the Eastern Conference Finals again.

Trade 3:

http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine

New Orleans sends Alexis Ajinca and Toronto’s 2018 2nd round pick to Philadelphia for Richaun Holmes.

Why New Orleans Does It:

The main goal is dumping Alexis Ajinca’s contract. However, a chance to take a closer look at Richaun Holmes on his stellar deal — just over $1m each of the next two years with a third year team option at the same price — isn’t a bad get. Holmes is 23 years old and a 6’-10” 245lb four with very nice athleticism. He isn’t a stellar rebounder, but he isn’t a liability posting a 14.4 TRB% with a 19.0 DRB% and a 9.6 ORB%. There isn’t a lot of evidence that he can become a useful 3-point shooter, but in his 22 attempts this season, he’s converted 36.4%, including 57.1% from the corner. He may be a player that could blossom with minutes, or he could be exactly what he is now. However, dumping Ajinca and a 2nd the Pels never really owned is worth the looksee.

Why Philadelphia Does It:

Even with Hinkie gone, Philly should be in the business of collecting assets. Holmes is caught up in a logjam of big men and likely isn’t part of the Sixers’ future plans. Gaining a 2nd for absorbing a palatable contract is a very Sixers move. Ajinca can be stretched or waived outright with little consequence, or he can be forced upon another team in a Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor trade.

Trade 4:

http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine

New Orleans sends Omer Asik, Dante Cunningham and Tim Frazier to Los Angeles and the worst of their 2nd round picks in 2017 to New York. Los Angeles sends a 2021 1st round pick (2017 & 2019 firsts already moved elsewhere), their 2019 2nd round pick, Austin Rivers, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce and Diamond Stone to New York. New York sends Carmelo Anthony to the Clippers.

Why New Orleans Does It:

Before Clips Nation posted this piece on a potential Carmelo Anthony to the Clippers trade, I had never dreamed it would be possible for the Pelicans to dump Omer Asik. However, you best believe I was quick to sign up. I recently posted a version of this trade that netted New Orleans these two big men, but with the addition of Crawford coming back, I decided it was a chance to make more moves. Here’s what I had to say about those bigs:

This move is all about restocking the bigs for next season. Kyle O’Quinn did little to endear himself to Pelicans’ fans with his recent hard foul on Anthony Davis, but he’s a player I’ve long coveted. He would allow Davis to play the four more often, and he would certainly sure up the Pelicans’ rebounding woes; this season he is posting a very good 20.1 TRB% with a strong 26 DRB%.

Additionally, O’Quinn finishes well around the rim, but can also hit the mid-range jumper — he’s currently shooting 46% from outside of 16’. He’s gritty and a decent defender, posting a 3.3 Defensive Box Plus/Minus on a pretty bad Knicks’ team. O’Quinn is also a nice playmaker out of the post. His assist percentages over the last couple of years are pretty similar to noted playmaking big man Andrew Bogut — though I’m sure Bogut comparisons won’t sell you on a player following that Dell/Gentry snake oil charade with Asik.

Marreese Speights would have been a great addition to this team this offseason. He’s nasty like that Millie Jackson “Back to the S--t!” album cover or a Peaches’ lyrics sheet. He’s the enforcer and screen-setter this team needs, but he can also space the floor for AD and our bevy of guards to operate in with his 40.2% from deep shooting. Like Cunningham, Speights has a player option on a contract that he will definitely hit the eject button on, which would leave the Pelicans without his bird rights. However, like with the Pistons’ trade scenario earlier, O’Quinn’s contract is such that it can allow one of these three non-bird bigs to probably re-sign. Three chances to strike out are better than two I suppose.

Crawford doesn’t fit into our tanking plans. He could be stretched as proposed in that Clips Nation post, but I have other plans.

Why Los Angeles Does It:

They get Carmelo Anthony, creating a big four to challenge the Warriors and Spurs. They also get a quality backup point guard on a great contract, a possible solid rebounding defensive center to spell DeAndre Jordan and Dante Cunningham who can serve as a backup to both Melo and Blake Griffin. A chance at a ring may be enough to convince Dante to opt in in the offseason, keeping this depth intact.

Why New York Does it:

They finally move on from the Carmelo era, clear some cap and add some usable players and draft picks.

Trade 5:

New Orleans trades Jamal Crawford, their last remaining 2017 2nd round pick and their 2019 2nd round pick to Brooklyn for Joe Harris.

Why New Orleans Does It:

The Pelicans are now in full tank mode which doesn’t normally lend itself to shedding picks, but moving 2nds to dump salary isn’t the end of the world. Joe Harris is cheap and his contract is fully unguaranteed next season.

Why Brooklyn Does It:

The Nets have no reason to tank. They have a 1st round pick swap in the 2017 draft with Boston this season and their 1st in 2018 goes to the Celtics. Crawford may win them a few games sticking it to their division rivals, but they can also try to flip him next season to gain some additional asset if a playoff team becomes desperate for a scorer. Meanwhile, they get two 2nds from the Pelicans for Sean Marks to play with.

Trade 6:

http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine

New Orleans trades Langston Galloway to Oklahoma City for Anthony Morrow and their next 2nd round pick, which likely will transfer in 2018.

Why New Orleans Does It:

The Pelicans bring back a familiar face, mainly for his expiring contract, and a 2nd round pick. The move saves Tom Benson some money to offset all of that dead Saints’ money and Alvin Gentry’s contract in a tanking year.

Why Oklahoma City Does It:

Galloway is a huge upgrade defensively over Anthony Morrow and is a massive upgrade offensively over Andre Roberson. He’s a great spot up shooting option in a three guard lineup with Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo or can put up some points when one of those need rest.

D-League Call-Ups:

Briante Weber:

D-League success is not a guarantee of NBA success, but gems have been found — see Tim Frazier. Briante Weber is worth a look especially on a team looking to tank. He’s been a triple double threat averaging 16.5pts, 7.6rbs and 7.4asts for the Sioux Falls Skyforce this season. He’s probably not a longterm option for this team, but he’s an interesting body to get a look at in this situation.

Quinn Cook:

The Pelicans have already taken a bit of a look at Quinn Cook, but it’s worth having a bigger picture to evaluate from. Cook is a better scorer than Weber shooting 38.2% from deep and posting 25.5 points per game. Still, these are just roster bodies to get through the season.

After the Trades & Call-Ups:

Roster to finish 2016-17 season:

PG: Tyreke Evans, Briante Weber, Quinn Cook

SG: Buddy Hield, E’Twaun Moore, Anthony Morrow

SF: Solomon Hill, Joe Harris, Quincy Pondexter

PF: Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Richaun Holmes

C: Kyle O’Quinn, Donatas Motiejunas, Marreese Speights

Draft Picks:

1st Round: 2017 own, and 2017 from Golden State or Utah

2nd Round: possibly 2017 OKC, but most likely transferred in 2018 due to protections

Offseason Salary Situation and Roster:

Team Salary After Rejecting All Cap Holds: approximately $58,368,507

2017-18 Projected Salary Cap: approximately $102,000,000

2017-18 Offseason Cap Space: approximately $43,631,493

PG: empty

SG: Buddy Hield, E’Twaun Moore

SF: Solomon Hill, Quincy Pondexter

PF: Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Richaun Holmes

C: Kyle O’Quinn

Open Roster Spots: 8

Now onto free agency and the draft...

**This post is dedicated to Pelicans’ blogosphere tank commander David Fisher and his former co-pilot Joseph Billiot.