Trade deadline week is right here. The New Orleans Pelicans’ 10-game shedding streak may need dampened their enthusiasm for making a win-now commerce, however no potential purchaser has as a lot to supply a vendor because the Pelicans. The inverse is true of the Toronto Raptors.
With that in thoughts, Pelicans beat author Will Guillory and Raptors beat author Eric Koreen of The Athletic talk about what the 2 groups might provide one another.
Guillory: Thanks for doing this, Eric.
I do know the Raptors have stored you busy over the previous few weeks. It looks like a brand new rumor pops up concerning the workforce you cowl every day. The Kyrie Irving commerce to Dallas has actually shifted the eye a little bit bit (we’ll get to that later). But Toronto will stay one of many most important characters on this yr’s commerce deadline drama till Thursday.
Much of the league has been patiently ready for the Raps to finish their present seven-game road trip to see which path they wish to go. That journey ended with Sunday evening’s win in Memphis.
In common phrases, what’s your really feel on the plans Toronto’s entrance workplace has going into commerce deadline week? Are you anticipating fireworks or do you suppose it’s nonetheless too early to name?
Koreen: Before the Irving commerce, I positively would have mentioned that one in every of their 4 veteran starters — Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. — could be on the transfer earlier than Thursday. I’d nonetheless lean that method, however the prospect of Kevin Durant turning into accessible in the summertime would possibly make groups suppose a little bit more durable in the case of throwing draft picks and younger gamers into trades. Sure, there may be all the time going to be a subsequent star to turn out to be accessible, however this one is a predictable case, and he is without doubt one of the greatest gamers within the sport.
But there are sufficient groups with life like probabilities to make deep runs this season that I nonetheless count on good affords to be there for the Raptors. I don’t suppose they’re able the place they need to commerce somebody, though not buying and selling both of their gamers on expiring contracts, VanVleet and Trent, whereas additionally not eliminating some wage on subsequent yr’s books could be problematic. Even if the Raptors have been able to re-sign each guards, they might be flirting with the luxurious tax, if not over it, earlier than they’ll take into consideration including any gamers. For a workforce that has confirmed to be mediocre, that’s problematic.
That is the place the Raptors are coming from: They don’t must make a commerce, however it’s in all probability of their greatest curiosity to do one thing. Where do you see the Pelicans proper now? They’ve been good after they’re wholesome — however they’re not often wholesome. Is there something they want particularly? And are there any picks or younger gamers who they completely wouldn’t transfer?
Guillory: It’s humorous as a result of I’d in all probability use the identical phrases you used to explain the place the Pelicans are proper now. They don’t must make a commerce, however it’s in all probability of their greatest curiosity to do one thing.
As you talked about, accidents have crushed the Pels all season. Zion Williamson hasn’t performed since Jan. 2, and Brandon Ingram is simply beginning to spherical into form after lacking two months with a toe harm. The Pels have nice depth, so that they have been in a position to keep afloat a lot of the season regardless of not often having their two greatest gamers wholesome on the similar time. But going by way of a 10-game shedding streak would change virtually any workforce’s perspective.
When all their items are collectively, the Pels have sufficient expertise to make some noise within the Western Conference playoffs. Still, this shedding streak reveals they’re in all probability inferior to they thought they have been initially of the season.
I’d say the most important points they should tackle in the intervening time are outdoors capturing and dimension on the perimeter. That’s why it’s pure for them to be connected to guys like Anunoby and Trent in commerce talks. Either a type of guys might play an enormous position on a workforce led by Ingram and Williamson.
For me, it’s robust to know what they are going to be in search of in the event that they make all these guys accessible. Would they promote Anunoby/Trent off to the workforce that provides them probably the most draft picks? Would they appear into VanVleet-for-Chris Paul offers? Are they going to re-enter the Durant sweepstakes?
Siakam is squarely within the prime of his profession. I don’t suppose it makes a lot sense to make him the centerpiece of a full-blown rebuild.
What path do you count on them to go in the event that they do begin buying and selling a few of these guys?
Koreen: As you identified, the Raptors might go in any path — a lot in order that I wrote about it nine days ago. I don’t suppose they’re going to routinely promote to the very best bidder, however they’ve long-term questions to consider.
Before this street journey, I’d have mentioned that buying and selling one in every of VanVleet or Trent was obligatory as a result of holding each of them (they each have participant choices that they’re prone to decline subsequent season) would put them right into a state of affairs the place the luxurious tax looms. However, VanVleet has rebounded nicely sufficient in 2023 to make me rethink that. Anunoby has turn out to be so enticing that possibly they discover a technique to both package deal Anunoby with a participant with time period on his contract (Chris Boucher? Khem Birch?) to provide them extra wage flexibility in the summertime, or simply fear concerning the tax if/when that drawback arrives.
If you’re holding Siakam, or at the very least fascinated with holding Siakam, there is no such thing as a level in promoting Anunoby off for picks. Young gamers will matter, too. So, for the sake of this dialog, let’s say the Pelicans need Anunoby. After making my most ridiculous request, my first actual request is likely to be:
To New Orleans: O.G. Anunoby, Khem Birch, Malachi Flynn
To Toronto: Dyson Daniels, Herb Jones, Devonte’ Graham, Jaxson Hayes, 2023 and 2025 first-round picks (each belonging to Pelicans, each top-4 safety)
Guillory: First off, some Pels followers would possibly attempt to push again on giving up two first-round picks in an Anunoby deal. There could be some back-and-forth on protections, however we each agree two picks might be what it takes for any workforce to get an Aunonby deal accomplished.
As far as this deal goes, the identify that jumps out to me is Dyson Daniels. Even although his taking part in time has been sporadic, I’ve been impressed by what he’s accomplished throughout his rookie season. He’s a high-IQ defender with dimension and an understanding of the way to use his physique. He’s additionally a little bit extra superior on offense than I anticipated going into his first season.
Considering he’s solely 19 and there are three extra years left on his rookie contract, the Pels would struggle to maintain him out of any commerce affords within the subsequent few days. It could be particularly troublesome to provide him up in any deal that additionally consists of the second identify that jumped out to me in your provide: Herb Jones.
Jones and Daniels have the potential to be two of the league’s greatest perimeter defenders in a couple of years. I’d wager the Pelicans desire holding at the very least a type of two in any potential Anunoby trades.
Graham and Hayes are apparent candidates to incorporate in any Pelicans provide. But how would it not have an effect on negotiations if the Pelicans aren’t prepared to place Daniels on the desk?
Koreen: As far because the picks factor goes — taking off my negotiating hat, and placing on my goal observer hat, which is after all a newsboy cap with a white cue card studying “PRESS” — I can see a world through which one decide goes the opposite method for Anunoby. Remember, the Raptors aren’t essentially in a “blow it up” state of affairs, so if the younger expertise is sweet sufficient, possibly there’s a workable take care of only one decide. However, the world is aware of the Pelicans have all these further picks. It’s higher to have them than not, however that additionally means the remainder of the league can ask, “What’s one more pick to you?”
Unless the Raptors love Daniels, the package deal I proposed must be a two-pick swap. Be grateful I didn’t ask for the Lakers’ decide! (Also, the Graham contract, which runs by way of 2024-25, isn’t precisely an amazing one to have on the books. It’s vital for the commerce, but it surely’s a detrimental asset, no query.)
If you’re taking Daniels off the desk, although, the decide outlay goes to need to be increased, not decrease. The solely different prospect on the Pelicans I like anyplace close to as a lot as Daniels is Trey Murphy III, and I’m assuming he’s too essential to the operation proper now for the Pelicans to maneuver him. Or does buying and selling for Anunoby imply he’s redundant?
If they’re each off the desk? Well, both three picks should be coming again, or the 2024/25 Lakers decide. Let’s say it’s the previous.
To Pelicans: Anunoby, Khem Birch
To Raptors: Graham, Hayes, Jones, Kira Lewis Jr., 2023, 2025 first-round picks (Pelicans, top-4 protected), 2027 first-round decide (both Bucks or Pelicans, seller’s alternative)
If I’m the Pelicans and I need Anunoby, the workforce I’m frightened about? The Grizzlies. They might provide one thing like Danny Green (whose contract expires after this season, in contrast to Graham’s), Ziaire Williams, Santi Aldama and picks and be proper there.
Guillory: You make a superb level concerning the double-edged sword that comes with having a ton of draft capital going into these types of negotiations. Having a ton of picks places you able to be a participant each time guys like Anunoby (and even Durant) turn out to be accessible. But for some groups, it virtually comes off as an insult for those who aren’t prepared to place a number of picks on the desk after they know you possibly can afford it.
It’s like going out to dinner with a rich individual they usually provide to separate the invoice with you on the finish. It is smart, however you continue to stroll away from the desk taking a look at them a little bit humorous.
If I have been a workforce negotiating with the Pelicans, I’d attempt to wrestle as many picks away from them as doable as a result of: a) they’ll afford it; and b) they have already got a ton of younger expertise on the roster.
But as we talked about earlier than, the Pelicans are in a bind due to their present wage cap state of affairs. This is a workforce that’s by no means paid the luxurious tax within the historical past of the franchise. With three gamers on the roster making greater than $30 million over the subsequent few seasons, it appears virtually inevitable this can change throughout the close to future.
The query is, how aggressive will they get with the development of this workforce understanding what the invoice’s going to appear to be as soon as dinner is over?
As a lot as I like Anunoby, and he could be a incredible slot in New Orleans, he’s solely received one assured yr left on his present contract. He’ll be in search of a large improve in his annual pay quickly. Any workforce that provides up a proficient younger participant and three first-round picks to accumulate him needs to be able to throw the financial institution at him quickly after his arrival.
And as we’ve realized lately, giving up three or extra first-rounders for a man who doesn’t instantly make your workforce a title contender often turns right into a catastrophe (sorry, Timberwolves followers).
How a lot do you suppose Anunoby’s subsequent contract will play a think about a few of these negotiations? Giving up three frivolously protected firsts might sound a little bit steep for the Pels contemplating these circumstances.
Koreen: Each workforce has its definition of what cap/tax peril means, and the Pelicans, working in one of many league’s smallest markets with the historical past you identified, will seemingly attempt to keep away from a tax fee till the final second. Anunoby isn’t a max participant, however you possibly can pencil him in for a beginning wage of about $30 million in 2024-25. It’s an element.
There have been occasions this season when it’s regarded just like the Pelicans have the very best roster within the league. They additionally simply misplaced 10 consecutive video games. I get why that may give them pause. Save for Denver, every workforce within the Western Conference has had purpose to doubt itself this season.
At some second, although, that precariousness is the purpose. The Western Conference is extensive open. In Williamson, Ingram, C.J. McCollum and a bunch of productive gamers on rookie offers, the Pelicans might make a deep run not solely this season however for seasons to come back. If Murphy, Daniels, Jones and Marshall all hit, that’s nice. However, that may nonetheless put the Pelicans in a possible tax state of affairs. In the meantime, possibly you miss a window. Things change quick.
The query, then, is for the Pelicans: Is Anunoby the man who might assist hold a competition window open for lengthy sufficient whereas additionally streamlining the workforce’s wage construction? And if not, what’s the plan?
With that mentioned, make your greatest provide for Anunoby. (Also, if you’re excited by some other Raptors, be at liberty to place a suggestion on the market.)
Guillory: A good provide for New Orleans could be Jones, Lewis, Graham, Hayes and first-rounders in 2023 and ’25 (with protections) for Anunoby and Birch.
I’m an enormous Herb Jones man, so I in all probability lean “no” if I used to be the person in cost. But it’s a deal that is smart for each groups.
Do you suppose Memphis would put a suggestion on the desk exceeding this one? I’d say they’re the workforce that advantages probably the most from an Anunoby commerce, however their entrance workplace has proven how a lot they worth holding on to their picks.
I’d additionally love to listen to your ideas on Trent and what his worth is likely to be within the commerce market. That’s one of many names I’ve had circled for weeks as a possible Pels goal.
Koreen: I agree along with your evaluation of that provide as truthful. I additionally suppose it’s a no for the Raptors. And if each side suppose it’s a no, does that make it a very good commerce? For the Raptors, it’d be exhausting to abdomen transferring Anunoby to the Pelicans and never getting one in every of Daniels, Murphy or at the very least a Lakers decide.
To me, the minimal to get one thing accomplished for the Raptors is one thing like: Daniels, Graham, the Pelicans’ decide in 2023 and the lesser of the Lakers or Pelicans/Bucks decide swap in 2024. Can the Grizzlies outbid both of these? Again, Green coming off the books this offseason versus Graham being signed by way of 2025 provides the Grizzlies an computerized preliminary benefit.
Then once more, the Grizzlies are concerning the most probably workforce within the Western Conference to win 50-plus video games over the subsequent few years, making their future picks much less engaging than the Pelicans’. The Pelicans have the higher particular person items to supply, however the Grizzlies can provide one thing like Green, Williams and Santi Aldema (or David Roddy/Jake LaRavia/Xavier Tillman/Kennedy Chandler) plus three picks and get proper there in quantity.
In brief: The Pelicans’ Eightieth-percentile provide beats the Grizzlies’ Eightieth-percentile provide, however Memphis is likely to be in a stronger place to make that provide now than New Orleans is. Does that make sense?
As for Trent, the Raptors are open to holding him, and there isn’t an amazing latest historical past of scoring-minded wings who’re so-so defensively and non-factors in transferring the ball that get a ton of cash. It is smart that the Raptors transfer one in every of him or VanVleet, but it surely additionally made sense for the Raptors to maneuver Kyle Lowry earlier than the commerce deadline in 2021 when he was set to turn out to be a free agent. They didn’t and wound up understanding a sign-and-trade deal that received them Precious Achiuwa.
Again, Graham being the matching wage hurts the Pelicans right here. It would possibly imply they would want to throw in a prospect in alternate for Trent and one other draft decide to pay for Graham.
I wouldn’t hate Trent and Malachi Flynn for Graham, Hayes, Naji Marshall and a high 8 protected Pelicans first-rounder. Is that too wealthy for a flight danger?
Guillory: The Pels love Marshall due to his defensive versatility and his locker-room presence. He’s additionally made some spectacular strides along with his offensive sport this season.
They would like swapping him out for somebody like Lewis. Maybe they throw in a future second-round decide for the difficulty. Again, us assembly within the center the place each groups stroll away a little bit sad in all probability reveals that we’re shut to creating the suitable deal.
Before we wrap this up, I’d prefer to throw out Jonas Valančiūnas as a reputation that might make the Anunoby talks a little bit extra fascinating.
Maybe he’s the mid-tier wage New Orleans might use to make the numbers work as an alternative of Graham. He’s a way more precious rotation piece proper now, and I do know followers in Toronto nonetheless love him.
It could be robust to maneuver on from him as a result of the Pels don’t have a number of nice beginning heart choices behind him. But getting a superior defender like Anunoby within the constructing might reduce that blow.
Valančiūnas has one yr left on his deal at $15.4 million, and if the Raps are excited by being a playoff workforce once more subsequent yr, JV might actually play a giant position for them. I’m undecided how nicely he’d match with what coach Nick Nurse likes to do defensively, however I wished to throw that on the market.
In the top, my guess is the Anunoby bidding battle will seemingly warmth up within the subsequent few days and it in the end scares the Pelicans away. If something, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Raps flip everybody away and simply hold him within the constructing.
Like I mentioned earlier, Trent is the man to control in the case of the Pels. He’s the knockdown shooter they want and he gives a little bit extra dimension on the perimeter than guys like Graham or Alvarado. He’ll be capable to get a pleasant deal as soon as he hits free company. It nonetheless gained’t be something near what Anunoby will be capable to demand.
Do you will have any predictions?
Koreen: Valančiūnas makes the general value the Pelicans must pay decrease, however I nonetheless suppose the Raptors would want to stroll away with one in every of Daniels, Murphy or a Lakers decide to think about transferring Anunoby to New Orleans. If they’re not prepared to do this, I don’t suppose they get Anunoby. Lord is aware of the Raptors might use an actual dwell centre for defensive functions, however that’s not JV.
My prediction: Anunoby goes to the Grizzlies, with the Knicks as a darkish horse. I predict the Raptors retain Trent and attempt to hold him within the offseason except some workforce blows him away. VanVleet is extra prone to transfer than Trent, and the Clippers are in all probability the workforce greatest geared up to land him. My solely actual prediction is that one thing (or some issues) I’ve mentioned on this dialog will likely be method, method off the mark by Thursday afternoon.
Any secondary targets you suppose the Pelicans would possibly flip to if they can not agree on a value with the Raptors?
Guillory: I don’t suppose they’ll be main gamers for guys like Bojan Bogdanović or John Collins for the explanations I discussed above.
Malik Beasley is somebody who could possibly be an amazing addition to bolster the 3-point capturing. On a a lot smaller scale, Justin Holiday could possibly be an fascinating veteran who suits their wants.
I’d wager the Pels look so as to add at the very least one shooter earlier than the deadline. I feel the shedding streak might have tampered down their aggression a bit going into Thursday.
(Top photograph of OG Anunoby: Stephen Lew / USA Today)