The Pelicans could use an additional point guard with Elfrid Payton slated to be on the shelf for another four weeks or so. While Tim Frazier has mixed in several solid performances in the interim, he remains a questionable option for a team that needs more certainty given their recent inconsistencies. Name one player that the New Orleans front office should legitimately chase, be it a trade target or free agent.
Kevin: Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie would solve much of the Pelicans current issues and answer some long-term questions for the future.
At 6’-6” and 220 lbs, Spencer gives Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore some needed size on the perimeter. He can create his own shot and put pressure on the defense better than any of the true points currently on the roster. He’s very skilled at getting to the basket, so he should be able to replicate what Elfrid Payton does but is a more versatile scorer than Payton. He could also be a better defender — though I don’t think this trade means the end of Payton, as having both would be very useful and I could even see them playing together if they are anchored by shooters like Moore, Nikola Mirotic and/or Darius Miller.
On The Bird Calls Podcast, Oleh, Preston, David Grubb and I have been begging for a point guard for seemingly ever. While everyone has been rightly concerned with pondering moves to keep Anthony Davis happy, many were ignoring the load Jrue Holiday was carrying — until he came out and said, “move me off the ball.” After playing Jrue next to Tim Frazier for a couple of games we have seen the potential for improvement.
Everyone on twitter and on press row seems to be on board with adding a playmaker now. I’ve heard the front office has been on that train for a while too. I don’t think there’s a better option than Dinwidde that is actually getable. His salary fits into the Dante Cunningham trade exception — the Nets likely aren’t looking for talent coming back, just draft capital to make up for the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson era. I’d easily give up a first for Spencer and a second if needed as I see him as the long term point guard for the Pelicans.
Jamile: Jeremy Lin
This sort of depends on what Dell is looking for. If he’s looking for a stop gap who possibly would not have a future with the team beyond this season, I would take a swing at Jeremy Lin.
Lin missed last season with a knee injury, but prior to that, he excelled in the Gentry/ D’Antoni offense. Lin had his best season under D’Antoni in a Steve Nash/James Harden role. Perhaps he could display similar upside in New Orleans while running a modified version of the same system. Now in Atlanta, Lin is having a nice season so far. He is converting over 50% of his field goals, including almost 42% from the three-point line while dishing 3.1 assist in 19 minutes per game. His per 36 minutes reveal the potential: 21.4 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.5 rebounds.
From a financial perspective, Lin would essentially be an even swap for Solomon Hill; however, Lin’s contract expires at the end of the season while Solo is on the books for an additional year. New Orleans could possibly get Lin for Solomon Hill and a 2nd round pick or two.
The only down side is that Hiil’s contract would have been useful if Dell wanted to make a play for a bigger fish on the trade market. Lin could be added into another trade later and would probably be preferable to Hill for potential trade partners, but I’ve got a feeling that once he gets in Gentry’s offense Dell is not going to want to move him — which I guess would be a good problem to have.
Preston: Monte Morris/Daniel Hamilton/Demetrius Jackson
We have talked ad nauseum about what could soon become available bench dwellers in Jeremy Lin, Tomas Satoransky, Milos Teodosic and Spencer Dinwiddie, but it doesn’t seem as if most teams are willing to sacrifice depth just yet for equal or lesser value. Dell Demps will hold tightly to that 2019 first round pick until he gets a difference maker, not just in the interim, but going forward into 2019-20 and beyond. Second round picks could be dealt, but it’s difficult to say what those can really bring you. Besides, a Pelicans second round pick has little to no value, as it should land in the back half of the second round where contributors rarely surface (See Tony Carr). It would be nearly impossible to unload Hill with even two of such picks and matching salaries becomes difficult once you take much of the roster off the table, outside of Wes Johnson whom the Pelicans still may yet need.
So with that said, we’re shelving the draft picks (for now), and exploring the two-way players and G-League playmakers. Daniel Hamilton of the Atlanta Hawks has been productive averaging a near triple-double 19/12/9 assists on 48% from the field and 36% from three-point range. Demetrius Jackson (27 points, eight assists on 48% and 37%) also could warrant a look in addition to Jawun Evans, the roster casualty of a plethora of riches in Los Angeles at the back court positions.
If pressed for an option in the NBA, Monte Morris for Frank Jackson and two seconds seems a risk, but gives the Pelicans the ready-now playmaker who can run the second unit. It could be premature to move on from the young Jackson, who could be special in time, but Demps’ hand may be forced should the Pelicans continue to tumble.
Charlie: Tim Hardaway Jr.
I think the team can survive until Payton comes back and they know it which is why they haven’t addressed the PG spot with another stop-gap of any kind. Should he return as predicted and rev the engine as nicely as he did during the first week of the season, the team should address the need for more shooting, versatiliy and energy. That is a tough get in the current market, especially with how wild and unpredictable the early season has been. Given that, I think Dell should target Tim Hardaway Jr. of the New York Knicks.
Hardaway goes against some of thought processes of late in that he’s a under contract for multiple years and has been a minus defender mostly, but he’s having a breakout year offensively and shooting 37% from three on 8+ attempts per game. Adding that kind of firepower to the offense should allow Davis and Holiday more room to breathe and lessen their burden to create. It would also give them more ability to focus on the defensive side of things too. Acquiring Hardaway could be a challenge without coughing up one of Mirotic or Randle, but Dell should certainly try, and even then he might be worth it.
David: Ty Lawson/Shane Larkin/Spencer Dinwiddie
On the free agent front, I remain bewildered as to why Ty Lawson hasn’t gotten a phone call from Dell Demps. No, Lawson isn’t a big name, but among free agents available today, the Pelicans could do a lot worse. Lawson, at 31 years old, can still be a solid facilitator on a second unit. In his last full season he had a 2.86:1 assist to turnover ratio and was still attempting better than 41 percent of his shots within three feet of the rim. Lawson is also a career 36 percent three-point shooter.
Shane Larkin is another interesting free agent option. He was lightning for Boston during last season’s playoff run, moving at an average speed of 4.45 mph each game. That was faster than Steph Curry, Jrue Holiday, and his teammate Terry Rozier. He could be another decent placeholder until a bigger move can be made.
The trade market does not benefit the Pelicans right now. Sellers have all of the leverage with so many teams still believing they’re in contention for the postseason. If the Pelicans do make a move, it should be for a veteran guard who can either produce points in multiple ways or an athletic wing that can defend the three/four positions.
The Nets seem like the only team right now that can fill both of those needs for the Pels without forcing them to overpay too much. Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 15.9 points and 5.0 assists for Brooklyn as a reserve. At 25 years old he is entering his prime, and unless he and the Nets reach an agreement, Dinwiddie could walk this summer as an unrestricted free agent. A trade for Dinwiddie would surely cost a number one pick, and possibly E’Twaun Moore. However, as Kevin has indicated numerous times, Dinwiddie could step in as a starter immediately and be the Pelicans point guard of the present and future. He and DeMarre Carroll could be a very interesting package at the right price.
Oleh: Trey Burke
Alvin Gentry needs a guy who has been around the NBA block a few times, is another legitimate and versatile scorer off the Pelicans bench and can be trusted to create for himself and others.
Trey Burke checks all three boxes.
Burke won’t help slow down opponents on the defensive end of the floor, but you’re not going to nab a two-way point guard for the price Dell Demps is seeking to pay. The best bet is to improve the defense through other means; however, the first hoop New Orleans must jump through is ensuring the offense doesn’t miss a beat when Jrue Holiday sits. So, how does Burke’s 21.1 points, 6.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds and a 47.3 FG%/36.1 3PT% per 36 minutes over the last two seasons with the New York Knicks grab you?
Brett: Terry Rozier
The Pelicans are one of many teams that should be looking closely at Boston Celtics’ guard Terry Rozier. He could start in New Orleans and perhaps be the final answer at the 1-spot, since Rajon Rondo was a patch, and in some senses, the Pelicans still need its 1 of the future — Frank Jackson is not yet a finished product. Rozier could perhaps even up his offensive load in a Boston uniform to hit new heights, or perhaps I’m simply too high on a guard in a Brad Stevens offense that favors backcourts. Who knows.