The New Orleans Pelicans current assets are in limited supply and they have ill-fitting pieces on the roster, but they do have two superstars in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. So, should the team prioritize in ridding at least one of Omer Asik/Alexis Ajinca, keeping all of their future draft picks or thoroughly examining the trade market to improve the roster?
Jason: If I was asked this question at the beginning of the season, I would have quickly preached trading away Omer Asik. However, I am now convinced that his waste of space will eat up the entirety of his guaranteed money before the Pelicans waive him and he then signs with a championship contender for the veteran’s minimum.
I still have hope the Pelicans can find a way to move on from Alexis Ajinca, though. Ajinca has been at least somewhat productive when he is given minutes, and maybe for a second rounder, New Orleans can add some depth at the wing or a sharpshooter in exchange for Ajinca. So, to answer the question, I think the Pelicans should prioritize moving Ajinca, but not at the cost of anything substantial.
Kevin: It would be nice to rid ourselves of one or both of those guys, but I don't think it should be a by any means necessary kind of move. As far as trading future picks, I'd go all in on using them to upgrade the roster now. You have two superstars and one is on an expiring deal. You need to build around them with above average players that are ready to contribute now. This is our one chance to make something great, and if both Cousins and AD stay relatively healthy, the value of those picks drop drastically so get what you can out of them now.
Jamile: I know a lot of people are in love with draft picks; I, for one, am not. Don't get me wrong, draft capital is paramount for an NBA franchise to pick up cost controlled talent. However, that talent generally takes years to develop and years are one thing the Pelicans do not have. I'm not really concerned with getting rid of Ajinca since his salary is quite reasonable and he can provide a little front court depth and scoring in a pinch. Asik's career, on the other hand, has reached full dumpster fire status. I would look for a way to dump Asik even if it cost me a lottery protected pick.
That said, if there are no takers at the draft, I wouldn't force it or sweeten the pot. See if somebody is willing to take a risk on him and if you can dump him before free agency do it. If not, just bite the bullet and bring him back for another year. After next season, Asik has only one fully guaranteed year left on his contract and will be much easier to move or stretch. Besides, next year may be a better free agent crop for the Pelicans.
So to answer the question, it depends, if Asik can be dumped for a lottery protected pick I would do it, if not I would prioritize making smaller free agent moves to improve the shooting and ball movement on this team.
David: Just eat Omer Asik's contract for one more year. As the length diminishes the cost of moving on continues to decrease. As for Alexis Ajinca, he should be moved and easily so. Unless the cost of moving him means adding assets or taking back negative assets Dell Demps should find Ajinca a new home.
That said, I am supportive of another future first round pick being traded. Whatever. Push all the chips in. At this point, it is now or never for New Orleans. A rookie TBD is not convincing DeMarcus Cousins to re-sign next summer so the 2018 pick isn't terribly useful. It could net a contributor either this summer or at the trade deadline in February. Sadly, the time for being patient and building through the draft is well passed for the Pelicans. Either get it right or possibly watch two All-Stars leave in free agency.
Oleh: I think this one’s easy and I’ve been on the same wagon since Cousins first arrived in New Orleans — you focus entirely on the here and now. Yeah, to varying degrees Asik and Ajinca are drags on the roster, but they’re no where near a priority for a team whose entire focus should be one man’s upcoming free agency.
If Boogie has the kind of year I expect, he’s going to have at least a dozen of interested parties knocking on his door a year from now. Consequently, the Pelicans have just one chance to get it right and surround the team’s two stars with the most complimentary talent this summer.
Make this an exciting year where a postseason trip promises of better things to come and New Orleans odds of signing Cousins to a maximum deal dramatically improve. If they fail, there’s a good chance Davis watches his buddy leave town and the vibe would unmistakably be similar to when Chris Paul realized the organization was intent on breaking up a good thing and finding Tyson Chandler a new home.
Ryan: I think getting rid of Asik and Ajinca would put a lot of Pelicans fans at ease. It would be better for them and the team if they were gone. The future is what will fire the Pelicans, success so I think hold onto the draft picks. If they can get a role player for a second round pick that would be great, but I think it would need to be a pretty juicy offer.
Travis: I'm writing an Alexis Ajinca season recap now and am coming to the conclusion that, assuming the Pels can't go out and get someone notably better, that he might be worth keeping. Asik, on the other hand, might need to go. Having more than three guys playing major minutes at center seems like overkill in this version of the NBA, and if Ajinca can keep his foul rate down, he might be useful. Also, he's not too expensive! $5 million ain't what it used to be!