The day before Elfrid Payton fractured a finger, I wrote about the need to add another playmaker to this New Orleans Pelicans roster.
My concern was that even with Payton and Holiday healthy there was a real need for another player who could create off of the dribble for himself, make the defense collapse due to penetration and to help get those players that need to be set-up to thrive play to their maximum abilities. Those targets considered in the aforementioned article were long-term pieces to this team’s core that could be acquired with the team in position to lock them up for the future.
Say a Spencer Dinwiddie.
Or a Tomas Satoransky.
First things first, I understand the counter-arguments against the need to add a point guard. There’s been a wing craving in New Orleans for as long as I can remember and believe me I understand the desire. I mean, I wrote a “thing” about mashing together E’Twaun Moore and Julius Randle in hopes of recreating Jamal Mashburn.
We are desperate, but the problem is that quality wings are not readily available (I know Otto Porter is, and I wouldn’t be mad about getting him, but I just believe there are better and more cost effective ways to improve the roster). Point guards, however, are much easier to acquire right now.
You can get better basketball players for less compensation at the one position, and what the Pelicans need most are better basketball players — regardless of position. That being said, I’m not going to say you are wrong if you want to go all in on a wing. It’s just a matter of taste and preference.
Sure, Jrue Holiday has mostly held down the fort with Payton out (with the exception of some recent turnover issues), but as Oleh Kosel dissected in a recent article, the burdens Jrue must carry may be becoming too much. And in case you missed it, Holiday explicitly told the media after practice today, “Get me off the ball.”
For me, with the right choice of point guards — namely the two I wrote about in the last article (Dinwiddie and Satoransky) — you get players that fix a lot of the Pelicans’ problems without thinning the bench or sacrificing any key core member.
While it's fun to advocate for a star or fill long-standing hole at SF, Pelicans identity is to play big AND fast. They're 8-1 when they've scored 12+ fastbreak points and 9-4 when they've totaled 15+ 2nd chance points. Adding a PG to this core looks to be quickest & best remedy.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) November 26, 2018
Those moves also give you a clear plan for the future. I’d be all in on getting those two. However, there are other moves that could act more as a bandaid until Elfrid returns that I’d hope Dell Demps soon explores. Let’s start with a candidate today who could be potential future foundation-lite.
Jeremy Lin for Solomon Hill, Two Second Round Picks and Cash:
Admittedly, I’ve never been much of a Jeremy Lin fan — I blame the Linsanity movement and my own stubborn ways of hating hype-trains, but I’m aware of this flaw in my character and am trying to work on that. Still, even with my rage against the mainstream tendencies (if the beard and zip code fits — I have to accept the label) I have to admit that he really is a quality point guard.
Lin is currently in veteran leadership mode in Atlanta, giving guidance to the Hawks’ point guard of the now and the future, Trae Young. However, Lin is also putting in work during his 18 minutes of action on the court — doing what the Pelicans’ need badly: penetrating, beating defenders off of the dribble, setting up teammates, getting to the line and shooting 42.4% from three.
Atlanta may value the mentoring he provides over the compensation so I’d be ok with upping the ante on Lin, but I don’t think it needs to take a 1st round pick. Atlanta has shown that they’d take on money to dump their own mistakes or to gain assets. We’ve seen them dump Dwight Howard on Charlotte for Marco Belinelli (who they bought out) and Myles Plumlee by dropping 10 spots in the 2nd round. They’ve also traded Dennis Schroder for Carmelo Anthony’s bloated contract (which they also bought out) and a top-14 protected first round pick. Atlanta is in build-through-the-draft mode and can afford to take small steps backwards to reach their ultimate goal. Hill’s contract will be expiring next season and could be used to net a bigger fish if they decide to speed up their timeline. Or they can just buy him out next season and use those two second rounders to either move up the draft board and to take risks on talented players that fall for any number of reasons.
However, in an alternate universe, New Orleans could help Atlanta immediately build around Trae Young and John Collins (who is one of my basketball crushes) with this three-way deal.
Obviously, picks would go to Washington as they eat most of the bad contracts in the league — that aren’t already on their roster — but in two seasons Kent Bazemore, Plumlee, Hill and Ian Mahinmi all come off of their books. The Wizards could also gain extra picks by trading Satoransky and/or Kelly Oubre Jr. (and obviously, John Wall). Even Bazemore with that contract could likely fetch them a chance to start from scratch in a wing-deprived league. Though, I don’t see Atlanta jumping the gun, or the Wizards being self-aware enough about their situation so Solo and seconds it is.
Regardless of what avenue the Pelicans take to add Jeremy Lin, Jrue Holiday needs some help and a former target of Dell Demps could be the answer.