It doesn’t seem as if draft night in the NBA will be very eventful for the home team as the Pelicans do not hold a 1st or 2nd round pick. Their first rounder was sent to the Sixers as part of last year’s draft day trade for point guard Jrue Holiday and what ended up being the rights to Pierre Jackson. The 5 ft 10 point guard out of Baylor played in the Developmental League and in Turkey last year.
But wait! GM Dell Demps has reportedly been working the phones trying to jump back into this year’s draft as he could be feeling the hot seat to field a ballclub that can make it to the postseason:
Pelicans aggressively trying to trade into 1st round in hopes of drafting a small forward or center, sources say.2014 1st dealt in Jrue deal
Small forward is the definitely the glaring need for this ballclub as they seem to have addressed the center position (see below). The biggest issue last season was injuries. The roster was decimated losing key players like to Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith with season ending injuries early on. Even Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon missed time at least 10 games each. So obviously health is really the teams’ biggest need this season.
As for trading back into the NBA draft, I’m not quite sure what assets the Pelicans would be willing to offer that would appeal to another team. The rumors of Jrue Holiday being on the block seem ludicrous to me as I believe he is a key part of the franchise building a champion. Trading him would be like saying the franchise made a mistake last year by dealing away two first rounder’s for him.
Another name frequently mentioned is Ryan Anderson. I don’t see this happening either, for two reasons: 1) His 3 point shooting ability was sorely missed a year ago and the Pels are just a better team WITH him. The threat of the long ball really opens up things inside for Davis. 2) Anderson’s status is still a bit of a question mark. He suffered a serious back injury, had surgery and will hopefully be back to his normal self come the start of camp, but it’s still an unknown. That’s a big red flag for teams interested in him and I don’t think New Orleans would be able to recoup his true value.
Don’t even mention Eric Gordon. While fans and the team would love to deal the often injured shooting guard, no one is willing to take on the reaming two years of his max money contract. It seems as if we are stuck with Gordon, like it or not. The Pelicans may regulate him to the role of 6th man since Tyreke Evans thrived when put in a starting role.
That really leaves Pierre Jackson and future draft picks as the remaining ammunition. Jackson played well in the D-League and overseas. He caught the attention of the basketball world when he set an NBA Development League record with 58 points in a game and is chomping at the bit for his chance in the pros.
And as for future picks, Yahoo Sports reported late last night that the Pels with be sending a protected 2015 1st round draft pick to the Houston Rockets for center Omer Asik. The Rockets are also sending over $1.5 million to New Orleans as part of the deal.
This move gives the team the big man they’ve been searching for to pair up with All-Star Antony Davis. Asik is 7 feet tall, 255 pounds and is a staunch defender and elite rebounder. The deal cannot become official until July due to league rules.