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Mock Trade Negotiations: New Orleans Pelicans

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We talk with our friends over at The Bird Writes about various Pelicans trades

New Orleans Pelicans v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

For this series of the “Mock Trade Negotiations” At The Hive’s James Plowright is joined by David Grubb from SB Nations New Orleans Pelicans blog “The Bird Writes” to discuss potential trades between the two franchises.

JP I have to say David I’ve been really intrigued by this Pelicans team since the Davis trade, I’ve been a supporter of the moves David Griffin has made and I’m excited to watch this team grow over the next few years. However, this team does seem to have a few “Clunky” fits on the roster and stood out to me as a team who could potentially be a good trade partner for the Charlotte Hornets.

The last time I did one of these articles was with Indy Cornrows and we concocted a trade for Myles Turner. That piece was completed during pre-season and I had a list of Hornets players in terms of where I felt the organisation might value them, I’m going to go through the same process today and you will see some notable changes to the rankings for Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges & Charlotte’s 1st round picks all moving tiers.

Firmly on the table

Cody Martin

Jalen McDaniels

Cody Zeller

Malik Monk

Bismack Biyombo

2nd Round Picks

Hiding under the table

Devonte Graham

Miles Bridges

Caleb Martin

Nick Richards

Vernon Carey Jr

Terry Rozier

1st Round Picks

Off the Table

PJ Washington

LaMelo Ball

Gordon Hayward

Where do you feel the Pelicans are currently at in terms of their roster evaluation?

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DG In terms of value I think something along the lines of:

Firmly on the Table

Wenyen Gabriel

Nicolo Melli

Sindarius Thornwell

Willy Hernangomez

1st round draft picks

2nd round draft picks

Hiding Under the Table

Lonzo Ball

Eric Bledsoe

Josh Hart

Jaxson Hayes

JJ Redick

Off the Table

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Brandon Ingram

Kira Lewis Jr

Zion Williamson

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JP No real surprises there from my point of view. Going into this Charlotte’s need is primarily around a young big man with size and rim protection who can roll to the rim and be a good dive/lob partner for LaMelo, fans have looked at names such as Myles Turner, Jarrett Allen, John Collins. I feel Jaxson Hayes also carries some of those traits, although is somewhat of a longer term project, but he’s someone I would like to signal real interest in and would likely have to be included in any potential trade. Other names from your list that stand out are Josh Hart & Lonzo Ball, but I’m not sure how the Pelicans view both going forward? Bledsoe is also an interesting vet who’s had a really rough start to the year, I wouldn’t rule out Charlotte taking him on board but he would likely be viewed as a negative value contract so the team would require some compensation for that.

What are your thoughts in terms of what this team needs this season and going forward? Is there anyone who stands out from Charlotte’s roster as an interesting target?

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DG The Pelicans have had the same primary needs since last season: reliable front court and wing defenders, athleticism, players who can create for themselves, and of course, shooting.

If the Pelicans have determined that they are going to build around Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Steven Adams for the next few years they have a number of decisions to make. Josh Hart is at the peak of what he’s going to become as a basketball player. He is a solid teammate and he hustles. He can help a good team, but he isn’t a difference maker in wins/losses on mediocre ones. He’s also a restricted free agent at the end of the season. If the Pelicans feel that they can retain him at a reasonable cost (New Orleans already has $89.5 million committed to those three as well as Hayes, Bledsoe, Alexander-Walker, and Kira Lewis Jr), then they’d be interested in doing so. Hart may have made a mistake in not signing this past offseason.

Ball is an even trickier proposition because the Pelicans don’t really have any young defender nearly as capable as he is on a nightly basis. He gives you size and rebounding at the guard position and last season his three-point shot was much improved. He’s had a rough start to the season and there is tremendous pressure on the Pelicans and Lonzo. Lonzo is never going to be a north-south driving point guard, but he needs to be more aggressive on a nightly basis. He’s also a restricted free agent, and his name alone will draw interest. If someone offers him a maximum contract, matching that would be a hard pill for the Pelicans to swallow financially. It also locks in at least 4/5 of your starting five for years to come.

Management is high on Hayes’ potential, but in the right package, he has to be expendable. Bigs take a while to develop and even with his fantastic athleticism, Hayes is behind the curve there.

Pelicans fans have always had high interest in Miles Bridges. He gave evidence of why when the teams played. The athleticism and ability to score in transition. His shooting has gotten better each year he’s been in the league, and he’s a perfect second unit scorer with the potential to become a starter. He still needs to improve defensively, like most young players, but the skill set is there.

Biyombo is an interesting option because his best asset is his defensive ability and he has an expiring contract, which would provide some financial flexibility this offseason. The same with Cody Zeller. Monk could be an option as an extra piece, but not the foundation for a trade. His shooting is intriguing, but his teams have been better with him on the bench since he came into the league.

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JP It looks as though NOLA has a lot of tough decisions ahead of them with Hart & Ball this off-season, I wonder if Charlotte could help make one of those decisions for you. One name I noticed you didn’t raise was Graham, I thought a good playmaking guard who can shoot the ball at a very low salary would have interest? I agree Monk wouldn’t be the foundational piece of any trade, but nice gamble to take for a team that at times can struggle to score.

As for your interest in Bridges you’re a few months late! If you had asked me in the off-season I would have been much more willing to part ways as last year he was inefficient and mistake prone on both ends, his counting stats were okay but that was mostly from just getting a lot of playing time. Miles played most of last year at small forward and generally struggled to guard quicker players and never displayed the perimeter skills required to succeed at the three. However, this year Miles has focussed on being more of a role player, playing to his strengths, lowering his usage and playing most time at power forward and has excelled in limited minutes.

As I initiated these discussions I’ll get us underway, How does Zeller + Bridges for Ball + Hayes sound as a starting point?

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DG I’m really tempted to take this deal...it just feels like it’s missing something.

How about we make it a little bigger?

Rozier+ Bridges+ Zeller for Ball+ Hayes+ Bledsoe

Bledsoe becomes a piece that can either be bought out or traded to a contender in the West, like Denver or Dallas.

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JP I can’t stomach taking on Bledsoe’s contract and losing Rozier, it hurts Charlotte’s salary going forward and think hurts this team too much in the short term. That’s basically Rozier for Bledsoe straight up which doesn’t feel like the right move for Charlotte. If Charlotte throws in a 2nd instead does that get the deal done?

A couple of other ideas to run by you I came up with

Devonte Graham + Monk for Hart + Hayes

Devonte Graham + Zeller for Ball + Hayes

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DG Bridges is the linchpin of this deal, but I need another guard if I’m bailing on Hayes this early.

If you’re adding Lonzo to the mix, either Graham or Rozier is done with the Hornets anyway. I’d prefer Rozier, but Graham is the alternative. The cap space is there to absorb Bledsoe’s contract, and he can be moved if you find a third team. The Pels don’t need picks.

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JP Understood, in that case I can think of another few options to help us get to an agreement.

If I were to add Graham or a Rozier/Bledsoe swap to the deal would the Pels be willing to throw in a future 1st? Unless you are we might not be able to find a way to a deal, as adding either Graham or Rozier to the deal by themselves feels like an overpay . The only other option I could consider is maybe a pick swap option for the Pels, you might not need anymore picks but it wouldn’t hurt to increase the value of one and a future Charlotte 1st is likely more valuable than any of NOLA’S or LA’s picks.

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DG I could be convinced to throw in a first round swap (Graham) or a straight up first (Rozier) to get a deal done

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JP In that case I would probably think the Rozier move is most likely as it keeps Charlotte more competitive in the short term and gives them an extra 1st down the road, can you confirm if that would be a NOLA 1st rather than an LA 1st? I know it might feel like unneeded details but in reality the difference in those picks is probably around 10 places in the draft.

So to recap

Rozier + Bridges + Zeller

for

Lonzo Ball + Eric Bledsoe + Jaxson Hayes + NOLA Future 1st

I’m not sure how realistic this is for both teams, it feels like moves with 2 starters and 1 rotation player from both teams rarely happen but certainly an interesting thought process. I’m disappointed I didn’t manage to shoehorn Monk into the deal but the money wouldn’t work.

DG Yes that would be a future NOLA 1st round pick. I agree, the deal actually benefits both teams, but is unlikely to happen. The Pelicans have a high value on Hayes, so GM David Griffin would be hesitant to do something in that regard. I think he really wants Lonzo to succeed here as well. The future isn’t this year for either team, but the Pelicans have to clear up their glut of guards and get some real presence in the front court. There’d have to be more moves for both teams, but I actually like this deal in a vacuum.

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JP Agreed, unless you have anything else to go over I think we’re done here? Now we can let readers vote to grade the deal below, appreciate you taking the time to work through this, really appreciate it

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DG We’re good to go. Thanks for having me participate.

Post Trade Analysis

As I edited this article I realised this trade Charlotte would have a glut of guards, LaMelo, Lonzo, Bledsoe, Graham, that’s a lot of mouths to feed. Looking back I don’t actually think I would make this trade, but if Charlotte did they would need to move Bledsoe or Graham to remove the log jam, with Bledsoe being the most likely. I was generally looking at the trade value of each player rather than the fit and roster construction so that’s my mistake. However, Charlotte would finally have a young big they could look to build around and a future asset they can use down the line to balance up the roster.

I originally went into these discussions with Jaxson Hayes as my primary trade target. Hayes is now stuck behind Steven Adams following his extension in the offseason and might not be a core part of New Orleans’ future. Hayes an extremely athletic big, he’s your traditional Clint Capela type rim runner who will block shots, rebound and be a dive threat out the pick and roll. He’s exactly the architype of player I feel Charlotte, although I do have worries about his Basketball IQ and ability to play mistake free basketball, but he’s still only 20 years old and I have faith in Charlotte’s player development programme. You can see some of his ability to attack the rim in the video below, can you imagine that guy playing with LaMelo?

I also had in the back of my mind that Josh Hart or Lonzo Ball would both be interesting guys to add into any trade to make the salaries work and could help this team going forward. However, both are Restricted Free Agents this offseason so you wouldn’t make this move unless you’re comfortable shelling out $6-10 million per year for Hart and $14-20 per year for Ball, but at least Charlotte would be able to take a strong look before making a decision. Hart is a rock solid, smart role playing wing who shoots it well enough and defends and rebounds at a good level. Ball is a combo guard who’s having a down year after a really promising 19-20 season. Ball is quite different to his brother, he is a much better defender and doesn’t need the ball as much, he’s a great “Connector” and another fantastic transition player.

Bledsoe & 1st round pick for Rozier, I’m not sure how I feel about that in a vacuum but in line with the rest of the trade I thing it’s okay. Bledsoe would instantly become Charlotte’s best perimeter defender and would help with the defensive rebounding, his numbers have dropped this year but the Pelicans system isn’t one that fits his strengths. He wouldn’t bring the shooting that Rozier does, but I could see him still helping this Hornets team and potentially being a trade chip down the line. The NOLA 1st round pick is pretty valuable, we didn’t delve into which year due to limited time but I’d expect it to fall between 10-20. We have just seen Charlotte miss out on the Jarrett Allen trade, potentially because they didn’t have 1st round picks to trade apart from their own which are too valuable.

Poll

Trade Grade: Rozier + Bridges + Zeller for Hayes + Lonzo Ball + Bledsoe + Future NOLA 1st

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    A
    (22 votes)
  • 18%
    B
    (40 votes)
  • 17%
    C
    (38 votes)
  • 30%
    D
    (67 votes)
  • 24%
    E
    (55 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now