COMMENTARY | Another trade deadline, another unchanged New Orleans basketball team.
The Pelicans have a fresh look, a new roster, and a made-over mascot, but some things don't change. Dell Demps made phone calls, contacted other general managers, and tried desperately to make some moves before yesterday's deadline, and in the end nothing was done.
I may be in the minority, but I think this is a very good thing.
The Pelicans stood to gain nearly nothing, long term or short term, in making a move at the deadline. Barring a miracle, the team will not make the playoffs; therefore, none of the expiring players they targeted would help with anything but giving the Philadelphia 76ers a worse draft pick (they own the Pelicans' 2014 first-rounder).
There is no guarantee any of the players would re-sign with the Pelicans next year, or that the Pelicans could afford them. And the only long-term contracts teams were willing to give up were players that would cripple the team financially. Simply put, Dell Demps should only make a move if it benefits his team. If no trade was available, then there is no shame in standing pat at the deadline.
I understand the desire of Pelicans fans to make a move. The team is seven games under .500, and there are players that fans are unhappy with. However, fans need to look at both sides of a trade. If fans don't like Greg Stiemsma, Brian Roberts, or Eric Gordon's bad contract, there's a good chance that other teams won't be interested in them as well. The value of these players is low, and thus will only return low investments, barring another general manager making a big mistake.
As the years go on and the salary cap gets harder to navigate, fewer teams are willing to take on bad contracts, making Gordon's deal hard to move. The Pelicans couldn't have made that move without taking back a negative asset in return, which again would not help the team. The Pelicans do have assets that they want to get rid of, but unfortunately no general manager offered to be the dumpster.
The Pelicans were rumored to use their disabled player exception to make a move for Jordan Hill, which would have been a decent move, but it wouldn't have done much for the Pelicans in the short term or long term. Jordan Hill is not going to magically turn this team into a playoff contender. The only benefit would be for Hill, who would use extended minutes to increase his value going into free agency. If he played well, the Pelicans wouldn't be able to afford him, and he'd leave. Which means the Pelicans would have traded a second-rounder (which admittedly has low value) for 30 games of a player.
An understated benefit to staying pat is giving your players confidence and consistency. Despite all the rumors, Tyreke Evans and Gordon are still on the team. When Jrue Holiday returns from injury over the next few weeks, it will be an opportunity for four of the big five players to play together in a lost season. They can get used to each other and gain chemistry this year that will help them next year. Also, the rest of this year will be free of trade-talk distractions, which will allow the players to play unencumbered for the rest of the year.
The only real negative that happened at the trade deadline was Pierre Jackson going to Europe in frustration, and even that wasn't particularly bad for the Pelicans. He wanted playing time or to be traded to a team in the NBA, but the team still owns his rights. They can still call him to the team in the summer to see what he can contribute. He may be unhappy with the Pelicans, but that will all change when they give him a chance to play next year.
All in all, general managers take what's available, like a batter at the plate. Swinging at something just because it was thrown near you won't help you in baseball, and it won't help you build a good basketball team. Dell Demps stepped up and saw nothing but balls in the dirt, and he didn't swing. He won't swing until he sees something that will help make this a playoff team.
That should instill some confidence for the club going into the next year.
Nathan Raby is a lifelong fan of all things New Orleans, and a Pelicans follower since they arrived in town as the Hornets in 2002. Besides writing for the Saints and Pelicans on Yahoo Contributor Network, he is co-founder of http://thefootbawlblog.com and can be heard on the Laces Out podcast.
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