It’s garage sale time!
The New Orleans Pelicans should be fielding calls on any core players not named Jrue Holiday, and according to reports by Zach Lowe and Real GM last week, they’ve been making and receiving calls on Nikola Mirotic, E’Twaun Moore and Julius Randle.
The market will be a bit richer for Mirotic as I discussed here due to his skill set, versatility and Bird Rights, but the Pelicans may still hope to recoup something for Randle by relieving a team of future salary and assisting in luxury tax avoidance.
But Julius Randle is more than just salary fodder. He’s received deserved criticism for defensive shortcomings, but the team as a whole hasn’t done a whole lot to help him. The Pelicans have been rated fifth-worst in the league all season long with or without Julius in the lineup.
Is he a part of the problem? Definitely.
Are they any better without him? According to Basketball Reference’s On/Off numbers, they’ve actually been worse!
But offensively is where Julius Randle does his damage and could really help a playoff contender. His enormous size and nimble feet allow him to penetrate past or through any defender, and get shots within five feet at will.
In fact, if you compare his per 36 minute numbers to DeMarcus Cousins’ sensational numbers from just one year ago, he’s not far off
Cousins: 25.1 ppg, 12.8 reb, 5.3 ast, 1.6 stl, 1.6 blk, +1.4
Randle: 24.2 ppg, 11.4 reb, 3.6 ast, 0.7 stl, 0.7 blk, +0.4
In addition, the only players posting better scoring totals (19.9), rebounds (9.3) and assists (three) are Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Karl Anthony-Towns.
Not bad company.
And he’s doing it with a 56% effective field goal percentage and career-best 32% three-point tally.
Julius Randle is shooting 31.8% from 3 this season, up 9.6% from last season. For those saying he can’t stretch the floor, just imagine him in Kenny Atkinson’s offense. There’s potential there.— Christopher Lavinio (@ChrisLavinio) February 4, 2019
Randle can make a difference for a team with 2019 playoff aspirations, and with unwanted salary going in his wake, could create benefit for a team long term while giving them a much needed boost now.
So, with that, let’s talk landings spots!
Comment below with your favorite, or list anything you think I missed!
Brooklyn receives Julius Randle
New Orleans receives Jared Dudley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
If the season ended today, the Brooklyn Nets would find themselves back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. As a sixth seed, they’d find themselves matched up with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. Depth in the front court is a problem for Philadelphia, who have been forced to give heavy minutes to Mike Muscala this season at the four and five. Randle could help swing a game or two off the bench alongside Dinwiddie, Carroll, Crabbe and Ed Davis.
The Nets have plenty of financial options going forward, but are probably hesitant to use much of it on Jefferson. Rodions Kurucs is a second round pick who has earned the starting position in front of RHJ. DeMarre Carroll is also an unrestricted free agent along with Ed Davis and fellow restricted free agent, D’Angelo Russell. Each of them could warrant paydays in front of Jefferson.
Jefferson is averaging nine points a game on 40% shooting and 23% from three. There’s no telling what his market may be, but it may be worth it to the Pelicans to gain his restricted rights and test the waters of free agency. Even simply signing the qualifying offer may be worth the flyer, since they’d lose Randle for nothing. And hey, who doesn’t love Jared Dudley, Alvin?! (Though he’d probably be bought out.)
Houston receives Julius Randle, E’Twaun Moore
New Orleans receives Brandon Knight, 2019 first round pick (unprotected) and 2021 second round pick
Julius Randle is a clear upgrade over Nene and Kenneth Faried and can help spell the absence of Clint Capela who remains out. Against the Warriors, Randle provides the bulk to take advantage of Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins on the offensive end, and body them up defensively, removing Capela from that punishment and allowing him to play a bit of rim helping free safety.
In addition, E’Twaun Moore provides the knock down shooting that will increase the league’s best unit in three-point shooting. Slumps aside, Moore started the first six weeks shooting 50% from three, and still shoots 43% on the season. He’d pair nicely off the bench in units featuring Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, James Ennis and Faried.
The Pelicans take on what could be an attractive expiring asset at the deadline next season in addition to a pick that will fall somewhere around #20 in this draft.
Plus, if their southwestern rival manages the upset over Golden State, that might send Durant into the arms of New York or Boston, further intensifying those teams’ desires to acquire Anthony Davis.
Miami receives Julius Randle, Solomon Hill
New Orleans receives Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, and 2022 second round pick
Miami needs help getting out from the tax this season. The Pels can’t help with that as this deal breaks even, but they do decrease what could be a $134 million charge in 2019-20 by $6.5 million. They remove Johnson’s $19.25 million player option from next year’s books putting Solo’s $12.7 in its place, and give the Pelicans McGruder and his restricted tender as payment.
The Heat are currently slotted 8th in the East, but a late season push could get them as high as sixth. While not as talented on paper as the third-seeded Sixers, they’d certainly be a lot deeper.
This deal would largely depend upon the Pelicans’ infatuation with both Johnson and McGruder. Is paying McGruder his restricted rate this summer worth $19.25 million in an expiring contract and backup point guard (Johnson)? Would the Pelicans need more in return than just a future second? Would the Pelicans be better off just letting Randle expire, attacking free agency and or using a more palatable Hill contract at the deadline then Johnson?
McGruder is a 6’4 defensive menace who shoots 36% from three-point range, and has fallen out of the healthy lineup in Miami that features Dragic, Waiters, Richardson, Winslow and Jones Jr. He’d be an ideal backcourt mate for Elfrid Payton off the bench, or could even play the three in select lineups with Holiday. At 27 years of age, he shouldn’t cost more than three years, $18 million. The Pelicans might even seek to present that offer this offseason. The Heat certainly would not match.
Tyler Johnson averages 16 points, four assists and four rebounds on 36% three-point shooting per 36 and would upgrade the position vacated by Payton in the event of his departure or off the bench in place of Tim Frazier and Ian Clark.
Let’s try this again!
Miami receives Julius Randle, Solomon Hill and Wesley Johnson
New Orleans receives Hassan Whiteside, Rodney McGruder, Miami’s 2019 first round pick, and 2022 second round pick
Again, the Heat don’t save much off the books this season (unless they deal or stretch Johnson), BUT they save an incredible $15 million off next year’s books! This amount easily puts them under the $129 million protected tax at a comfortable $119.
The Pelicans shed Solo, get McGruder and a top-20 pick in return, and I know that’s a lot of money. A LOT. Solomon Hill would be very moveable at the deadline. Whiteside is a harder sell both because of the number itself, and his personality. But Whiteside would likely never play with the Pelicans, and instead should seek a buyout if the Pelicans can’t find another home for him similar to the Thunder’s deal for Schroder this past season.
Oklahoma City receives Julius Randle
New Orleans receives Patrick Patterson, Alex Abrines and 2021 top-20 protected pick (converts to two seconds)
This is a cost-saving measure for the luxury tax bound Thunder as well as a definitive upgrade. Patterson has been a disappointment and Abrines has played himself out of the lineup. Patterson has just one year ($5.7 million), remaining but Abrines is a restricted free agent. The Pelicans would have matching rights, or could even opt for the qualifying offer. He’s a good enough shooter to warrant the look.
In return the Pelicans also get what could be a late first or two future seconds that will probably come at the back end of both Westbrook and George’s careers.
Philadelphia receives Julius Randle and Darius Miller
New Orleans receives Wilson Chandler, Furkan Korkmaz and 2019 second round pick (from Bulls)
This move costs the Sixers very little and immediately makes them a legitimate challenger in the Eastern Conference. Depth has been their sole concern as they have boasted the best starting five in the NBA with Simmons - Redick - Butler - Chandler - Embiid.
For the Pelicans, this is essentially depth for a flyer on Kormaz (unrestricted) and the Bulls second which will likely be 34th overall.
If the Pelicans prefer to shed 2020 salary, they can send Moore in Miller’s place. They can also simply swap Randle for Markelle Fultz, though the 76ers would probably want to avoid the embarrassment of a deal like that until the summer.
Toronto receives Julius Randle
New Orleans receives Norman Powell and Greg Monroe
In a cash cutting move for the tax paying Raptors ($138 million), the Pelicans take on three million of those concerns while also relieving the Raptors of the remaining three years of Powell’s contract. Powell remains an effective player, but there is simply no room for him with the emergence of Van Fleet and OG Anunoby.
In addition, Randle helps shore up a front court by upgrading Monroe’s minutes. He, along with Ibaka, Siakam and Valunciunas would form the best four man front court in the NBA and could step into either spot in the event of any injury.
So, which move did you like best? Obviously, we’re not talking Anthony Davis type of returns here, with Julius Randle being a much lesser player and no Bird Rights to sell. However, as we’ve seen, he can bully his way effectively at times and score at will against second-man units.