The trade deadline is less than a month away. What is the team’s biggest hole that needs to be filled on the roster in order to improve playoff odds, and who is your favorite, at least somewhat realistic, trade target?
Jason: Wing, Jabari Parker
The Pelicans have been missing the same piece for several years now: a true Small Forward. I think the front office needs to swing for the fences now more than ever if they want Anthony Davis to consider staying in New Orleans, and getting a small forward with good potential is a smart shot to take.
Enter Jabari Parker.
The once highly sought after 2nd overall pick is now at the center of some trade speculation around the league. Though his 2 year/$40M contract is not the most appealing, Parker is still young, 23, and has a lot of years left. The Pelicans should bring in one more scorer who is capable of carrying a team’s offense. I believe Parker is worth the risk.
Kevin: PG, Tomas Satoransky
I know there are a lot of people fetishizing wings or stars, like Bradley Beal — and I understand those arguments, but I don’t see an avenue to a star without sacrificing too much (especially considering the uncertainty of the Anthony Davis situation) and leaving the Pelicans with an even thinner bench. I also don’t see many wings that would help a lot that are actually able to be had. Thus, I feel the main need is another point guard and one that could be a long term contributor as no point guards on this roster are under contract next season.
Since Spencer Dinwidde is seemingly locked into as a Net, my top target is again Tomas Satoransky (who is filling in nicely once again for an injured John Wall), but I’d also look into Trey Burke or to dump Solomon Hill for Jeremy Lin.
That being said, I’d still try to get some kind of wing help — if Orlando decides to sit out the playoff fight this season perhaps Wesley Johnson and a 2nd for Jonathan Simmons, or Wesley Johnson, Ian Clark and two seconds for Terrence Ross could work. I’d also approach Cleveland about Rodney Hood (though, Hood is currently injured) or Alec Burks. I believe this team doesn’t need a star, it just needs better basketball players on the bench next to it’s top 6 players. Another guy I’d feel around is Troy Daniels in Phoenix to provide a little more shooting on the bench.
Chris: Wing, Bradley Beal
It continues to be the small forward position/above average, multi-dimensional wing of any damn kind. Bradley Beal would be the sexy addition of course, but with Washington seemingly once again thriving without John Wall would they still trade him? I wasn’t always the biggest Beal fan due to size constraints and a passive Jrue Holiday possibly returning. However, at the right price NOLA would be foolish not to pull the trigger in this market that isn’t all that clear on sellers yet.
If it’s not Beal, I’d look for a package deal of sorts that could land you a backup point guard and a wing to slide next to Jrue Holiday. Kent Bazemore and Jeremy Lin have been names tossed around for years, I’d for sure look that way. What about a D.J. Augustin and Terrence Ross/Jonathan Simmons pairing? Who wouldn’t like to see NOLA have two locally made point guards running the show?
Maybe Brooklyn changes their mind on Spencer Dinwiddle long term after his contract extension and D’Angelo Russell’s recent play and could ship him with DeMarre Carroll to the Big Easy. Any of those can fit, because contrary to some beliefs I’m not sure New Orleans “needs” another star to stabilize future rosters and continue their rise up the Western Conference ladder.
Mike: Wing, Tomas Satoransky
The biggest hole is on the wing, but not necessarily at small forward. The days of considering who could guard the LeBrons and Durants of the world should be over. Only a few players in the league stand a true chance at shutting their fellow stars down. Otherwise, you just have to hope for the best. Rather than try and acquire a worse version of one of these players in an attempt to minimize the strengths of their opponents, the Pelicans should try to maximize their own. Find a player who can maintain the fast pace, knock down open shots on the perimeter, assist with the play-making and, at the very least, keep the ship afloat on the defensive end.
Tomas Satoransky would be able to check all of those boxes for this team. His 13.6 percent usage rate would not intrude on the possessions of Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic, and the combination of a 3.16 assist-to-turnover ratio and a 21.1 assist percentage indicates both a willingness and an ability to make his teammates’ possessions count. His three-point percentage on either open or wide-open shots is 42.9 percent, which is made even better by the fact that 63 of his 67 of his three point attempts this season have been of that variety. Should he need to space the floor, he can, and should he need to take the reins of the offense, he can do that too. He’d cost at least Randle if the Pelicans were to pursue him, but given how important he appears to the Washington Wizards both on and off the court, he may not be on the market.
Jamile: PG, Jeremy Lin
Generally speaking, the answer to this question has seemingly always been a 3-and-D small forward who can help defend some of the larger wings in the league and also be a threat on the offensive end. While wing depth is still a glaring hole on this roster there are very few players on the trade market that can provide the aforementioned skill set while also not complicating the Pelicans salary cap situation moving forward. For that reason, I think it would be smarter for Demps to add another point guard to this roster.
The drop off in production from starting point guard Elfrid Payton to back point guard Tim Frazier is so dramatic that the Pelicans simply can not risk continuing with Frazier as Payton’s sole backup. Additionally, adding another quality point guard could help stabilize the second unit offense. In recent games the emergence of Jahlil Okafor and rookie guard Frank Jackson has boosted bench production; however, the unit is still somewhat limited by the average — at best — playmaking ability of Frazier. This creates the need to play Jrue Holiday additional minutes to ensure the offense doesn’t fall of a complete cliff, so adding another point can also help bring Holidays minutes down into the sustainable realm.
A good target for Dell Demps would be Atlanta backup point guard Jeremy Lin, who excelled in Mike D’Antoni’s offense with the New York Knicks. Lin might be able to add similar scoring punch to the Pels second unit for D’Antoni disciple Alvin Gentry. In addition, Lin adds another respected three-point shooter which would help open the floor up for Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. New Orleans could roll out an interesting lineup of Davis, Mirotic, Moore, Holiday, and Lin. Such a lineup could be devastating offensively while still holding it’s own on the defensive end.
The Pelicans front office might be able to acquire Lin in exchange for Wesley Johnson, Tim Frazier, Ian Clark and a second round pick. The dream scenario would be to dump Pelicans small forward Solomon Hill for Lin, but I don’t see a reason Atlanta would do that when there are expiring options on the Pels roster that would net them a similar return in terms of picks. Lin’s contract expires at the end of the season and is a near perfect salary match for Pelicans forward Solomon Hill, although Hill’s contract include an additional year of guaranteed money.
Preston: PG, any player who represents improvement over Frazier/Clark
The popular argument is small forward, but I’m going the other direction. Upgrading the small forward position may give the Pelicans the higher ceiling, but an improvement at point guard will provide the consistency and get the rest of the Pelicans playing their best ball.
Prior to the Minnesota loss, the Pelicans were averaging 126.1 points per game in their previous five games with Elfrid Payton at the helm. I have been severely critical of Payton in the past — and for good reason if you’ve watched tape of his time in Phoenix and Orlando, but the bottom line is that he is an NBA rotation player capable of playing minutes for a playoff contender. The same cannot be said for Ian Clark and Tim Frazier. The Pelicans desperately need better depth to step up in Payton’s minutes off the floor and absences due to injury.
At the small forward position, the Pelicans lack the necessary firepower to overwhelm any comparable player from opposing Western Conference playoff challengers, but E’Twaun Moore’s size isn’t the problem as much as you think it is. Sure, his 6’4 size does give the Andrew Wiggins of the world a distinct advantage, but the perimeter shooting is where teams have truly abused the Pelicans.
That alone isn’t Miller or Moore’s faults. It’s collective. It’s come from poor communication and failing to match up in transition. It’s basketball intelligence, not size. Will a player like Otto Porter make the difference there? Maybe, but team defensive basketball is the only thing that can truly slow down longer perimeter players from taking advantage of the Pelicans.
Charlie: Wing + PG, Tomas Satoranksy & Otto Porter Jr.
The biggest hole is, has been, and seemingly forever will be on the wing. Obviously, the team needs point guard depth, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to imagine that role potentially being filled from the buyout market. However, an impact wing that can shoot, defend and hopefully create for others is simply not coming along anywhere outside the trade market.
The Pels are in a tough spot as their pick is still their most attractive asset, but it also is the most valuable long term item for the health of the franchise given the teams’ free agents this summer. Trade targets should begin to show up in earnest and I have changed my opinion on the 2019 1st Round Pick, hoping that Dell does indeed flip it — but for an impact talent that can push the team up a notch. Should the worst come about and we need to deal Davis, the return should be enough for a rebuild aside from our ‘19 first.
I’m still of the opinion that the team would benefit greatly from a small improvement at needed positions and thus would highly encourage pursuing a combo package of Tomas Satoransky & Otto Porter should Washington make them available. The below trade could be a conceivable way to acquire the duo and fully flesh out the roster with credible NBA talent.
David: Wing, watch market develop prior to trade deadline
The biggest need, in my opinion, is still an athletic wing defender. Wesley Johnson and Solomon Hill are seeing little floor time, if any. There aren’t any “sexy” targets that won’t cost the Pelicans another first round draft pick, and it would be hard to convince me that it would be worth it with such an uncertain summer ahead.
I’m not sure who I would target because things are going to be so dynamic between now and the trade deadline. Check back with me after this five-game road trip.
Oleh: PG, Lance Stephenson or Alec Burks
Just as we witnessed last season, this roster can get by enough with the pieces they have at small forward — although a legitimate small forward eventually needs to be added. Rather, Tim Frazier can’t be relied upon for not a minute longer.
Since Jamile already went into depth about nabbing Jeremy Lin and doing it appropriately by offering expirings plus a second round pick, I’m going to mention a couple of targets that haven’t received much if any press and would be ideal for their defensive versatility.
The combination of Lance Stephenson’s competitiveness, passing and rebounding is ideal under Alvin Gentry. I’ve watched several games where he alone has been responsible for turning around the Los Angeles Lakers fortunes within a particular game.
Obviously, though, Stephenson likely won’t be as available as Dell Demps needs him to be so I hope the front office inquires Cleveland about Alec Burks. He isn’t a traditional point guard, but I think he could handle the job in spurts alongside another one of the New Orleans guards. Could Burks be had for Julius Randle or perhaps Wesley Johnson, Cheick Diallo and a second round pick?