I'm a not a direct fan of the Pelicans but I do spend time following teams that are interesting across the league. After the stellar playoff run, I've been following how things have been going. This season hasn't been what everyone expected, but I'd say that can be attributed to a decline in defense. That is how I would sum up the turbulence I've seen in the stats. But I haven't really stopped by to chat because I have opinions on the defense, rather I'm curious what some of the members think about personnel decisions.
I loved the pick up of Randle but outside of him and Mirotic's strong scoring, things have been lackluster. I think it has to do with recovering from constant departures in free agency and lack of picks have left the roster relying heavily on its stars. With likely more continuing departures this upcoming summer, I think it may be time to start trying to cash in the successes and facilitate contract dumps because this team needs an injection of talent to support Holiday and Davis.
The money freed up for this summer may land a talented player, but it is likely going to be given to Randle, who is going to opt out to ask for more money after this season. With few alternative options to Randle, maybe a shot at Jimmy Butler or the safe Marcus Morris, the Pelicans need to find another way to improve: to which I am alluding to trades. The player I think that needs to be moved is Mirotic.
I may have lost a few, if not all, but considering his contract's expiration and the decline in his defensive ability, I think it would be wise to sell high. His value has recovered nicely since his trade from the Bulls, and the value retained by sending Omer Asik with the 22nd pick (Hutchinson) has exceeded expectations. To continue with exceeding expectations, instead of paying for a position likely to be filled by a paid Randle, it could make sense to trade for small forward with upside.
As I have noticed, small forward seems to be a weak spot. A failed experiment, Solomon Hill starting is equivalent to a cry for help and it is telling me there is a huge hole. In efforts to improve defense concurrently to find a small forward, I looked for wings that fit that description. I saw that Kyle Anderson, Kent Bazemore, Otto Porter, Kyle Kuzma, and Dorian Finney-Smith fit under some of the simple constraints I set. Now, this list is by no means perfect. But there are players that could fit well. The first three would work well. Anderson has a great price, strong defense, but lacks heavily on offense, an area I don't know entirely why he is underperforming. Kent Bazemore has the most upside; he needs better players around him to allow him to fill his role. This was how he developed promisingly during the Hawks-Budenholzer era. His contract is steep at 18M and a 19M player option. But getting off the stinking Hawks could breathe new life into his game. Otto Porter is the biggest risk but highest reward. On an enlarged contract, $26M (plus 55M for the next two years), he has been stagnating on the Wizards, which I contribute to the team's stagnation itself. Otto Porter Jr. has the intangibles for winning. He defends, hustles, and shoots well; but the risk is his oversized contract.
These three all have risks and upsides. But I think to make it work, the Pelicans' front office needs to take a risk. A move for Otto Porter Jr. may be exactly what this team needs to get back to playoff basketball. Sending Mirotic, newly acquired Wesley Johnson, and E'Twaun Moore (maybe a future second) could be enough to part Otto Porter (with Satornasky) from the Wizards, who are desperate to move salary. A similar deal could be made for Bazemore but I think it is important to show Davis they are committed to putting him in a position to win.
This is where I think they should start. The next step would be to pick up some draft picks and young prospects to fill the bench. The current growth of Diallo is the type of development the Pelicans need injected for future growth and stability.
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