Don’t Play Texas Hold’Em With David Griffin

I feel like a mad genius right now, and I just had to share this…

I just sat here with @soft7juice, and went through our staff mock draft to try and have it make more sense. What ended up happening? Well, we kinda came up with a scenario where David Griffin becomes Executive of the Year. As some may know, the Pelicans just traded Anthony Davis to the Lakers for an amazing asset haul. I do not really like the players that the Pelicans got, and the pick is interesting but not amazing. The future picks are great, but they won’t get moved. Where I am now, if I was David Griffin, I would be looking to consolidate assets or improve the roster. With that in mind, we came up with three moves that would not only revamp the roster, but allow the Pelicans to become the young, sleeping giant in the NBA. Let me take you on a walk down this path…

STARTING ASSETS:
– #1 and #4 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil)
– SG E’Twuan Moore (1 yr/$8.6 mil)
– PF Solomon Hill (1 yr/$13.25 mil)
– SF Brandon Ingram (1 yr/$7.3 mil + RFA rights)
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights)

Looking at the Pelicans roster right now, I am not really enthralled with the lineup. Sure, at the end of this season, the Pelicans will be off of E’Twuan Moore and Solomon Hill’s combined $21.85 million. Those are very enticing contracts that I am sure that more than a few teams will want to acquire. I am not high on Ingram, Ball, and Hart, and think that they hold more value as tradeable assets than cornerstone pieces. Ingram and Ball are too injury-prone to me, and I do not think that Hart is good enough to start or even be a good sixth man. With the goal in mind to create a contender centered around Zion, then the team needs to reflect that.

There is interest in the assets they hold now, so why not consolidate assets and actually create a team that fits around Zion, not putting scraps around him and hoping they fit. Like a good card player, David has his hand close to his chest. However, he will have to position himself at the table to get the best situation and deals possible. This leads us to the first move…

MOVE #1: “The Flop”
Hornets Receive: SG E’Twuan Moore (1 yr/$8.6 mil); SF Brandon Ingram (1 yr/$7.3 mil + RFA rights)
Pelicans Receive: C Cody Zeller (2 yrs/$30 mil); #12 pick in 2019 NBA Draft

ASSETS RIGHT NOW (after M1):
– #1, #4, and #12 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil)
– PF Solomon Hill (1 yr/$13.25 mil)
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights)
– C Cody Zeller (2 yrs/$30 mil)

Picture this…

You’re Michael Jordan. You’re doing two million dollar bets at the craps table in Vegas. You’re doing good, but your NBA team still sucks. All the sudden, you get a text from David Griffin. Not like a “LOL I screwed Boston on purpose” kinda text, but a “Let’s make a deal” kinda text.

Before you can even ask what the terms are, you get the double text just as fast. It reads, “We’ll take Cody and 12th for Ingram and Moore.”

Now, if you were the Hornets, you take this trade immediately. You get off of Cody’s horrible contract, and you also get players that can actually score to put around Kemba. A small ball lineup of Kemba-Moore-Lamb-Ingram-MKG would be enough to sell tickets in Charlotte, and might even be enough to sell Kemba on wanting to return. You wipe $8.6 million off the books at the end of the season, and you have a piece to build with Lamb when Kemba retires eventually.

Now, if you are the Pelicans, I would take this trade, too. The 12th pick is a great asset to have in a draft that many scouts are saying has whatever players draft 4-17 as being roughly equal. Maybe it takes another pick to really secure the trade, but it makes sense. Ingram has DVT and is coming off surgery, so who knows if he will be good to go anyway. He needs to have the ball in his hands on offense, and you will have to pay him after this upcoming season anyway. E’Twuan Moore is needed to match salary in the trade; the move is being made to free up shooting guard minutes for future trades/picks and for Josh Hart. Maybe the Pelicans need another pick to make this work, but this move alone is better than anything that they could do by keeping Moore and Ingram on the books.

Speaking of books, this leads us to the next move…

MOVE #2: “The Turn”
Hawks Receive: #4 and #12 pick in 2019 NBA Draft; PF Solomon Hill (1 yr/$13.25 mil)
Pelicans Receive: #8, #10, and #17 picks in the 2019 NBA Draft; C Alex Len (1 yr/$4.16 mil); PF DeAndre’ Bembry (1 yr/$2.6 mil + RFA rights); PF/C John Collins (2 yr/$7 mil + RFA rights)

ASSETS RIGHT NOW (after M2):
– #1, #8, #10, and #17 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil)
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights)
– C Cody Zeller (2 yr/$30 mil)
– C Alex Len (1 yr/$4.16 mil)
– PF DeAndre’ Bembry (1 yr/$2.6 mil + RFA rights)
– PF/C John Collins (2 yr/$7 mil + RFA rights)

The writing has been on the wall for the Hawks players pre-Travis Schlenk era. In a tale as old as the NBA itself, GMs like having guys they drafted on the roster. Len, Bembry, and Collins were all drafted under the old regime, and the market couldn’t be higher for Collins. He made the dunk contest, and looked fantastic next to Trae Young. However, he is not the center of the future for them. They need a better offensive center, not one that can just catch lobs. On top of this, Collins comes up for his restricted free agency soon, and I do not think they wish to pay whatever he gets offered. To cap it all off, the #8, #10, and #17 picks are all good, but will be in a portion of the draft that will be frontcourt heavy. Schlenk would not take three forwards, or two forwards and a center. Too many question marks, and it will be tough to target Schlenk’s second favorite player in the draft: small forward De’Andre Hunter.

Right now, the #4 pick is slated to have Hunter be available. On top of that, Solomon Hill’s contract expires after next season. Bembry and Len combine for almost $7 million off the books, but $13.25 million is definitely more than $7 million. The extra money will help them take on more money for a future asset (like a salary dump from a contender like the Hornets in the future) or pursue a nice free agent in the 2020 free agency. The 12th pick may need to be added to help smooth out all of the assets, but I do not know if it needs to be added into the trade. I did add it to appease Hawks fans, but I don’t think it needs to be there. It is more of a sweetener than the main course.

The main course is for the Pelicans to expand their proverbial portfolio. Flipping a guy that won’t play and two picks for 2 serviceable players, a starting (borderline franchise) player, and 3 picks? If the Ainge-father himself did this, there would be a parade for him at major news outlets. The Pelicans need assets to get really good players to help build around their franchise player in Zion. The 8, 10, and 17 can net them 3 guys that are very good to expand the player count and quality around Zion. However, the easiest way to expand the count and quality is to go for the killer of all trades…

MOVE #3: “The River”
Bulls Receive: PG Lonzo Ball (2 yr/$19.2 mil + RFA rights); SF/PF Josh Jackson (2 yr/$16 mil + RFA rights); #17 pick in 2019 NBA Draft
Suns Receive: PG/SG Jrue Holiday (3 yrs/$79.3 mil); #10 pick in 2019 NBA Draft
Pelicans Receive: SF/PF T.J. Warren (3 yr/$35 mil); SG/SF Mikal Bridges (3 yr/$14 mil + RFA rights); SG/SF Chandler Hutchinson (3 yr/$9 mil + RFA rights); PF/C Richuan Holmes (small contract sign-and-trade); PF Lauri Markkanen (2 yr/$12 mil + RFA rights); #6 and #7 picks in 2019 NBA Draft

ASSETS RIGHT NOW (after M3):
– #1, #6, #7, and #8 picks in 2019 NBA Draft
– SG Josh Hart (2 yr/$5.5 mil + RFA rights)
– C Cody Zeller (2 yrs/$30 mil)
– C Alex Len (1 yr/$4.16 mil)
– PF DeAndre’ Bembry (1 yr/$2.6 mil + RFA rights)
– PF/C John Collins (2 yr/$7 mil + RFA rights)
– SF/PF T.J. Warren (3 yr/$35 mil)
– SG/SF Mikal Bridges (3 yr/$14 mil + RFA rights)
– SG/SF Chandler Hutchinson (3 yr/$9 mil + RFA rights)
– PF/C Richuan Holmes (small contract sign and trade)
– PF Lauri Markkanen (2 yr/$12 mil + RFA rights)

The Bulls love Lonzo Ball, and their second string small forward right now is Denzel Valentine. You’re able to secure another athletic forward that you desperately need, and you trade back to an area of the draft that players like Brandon Clarke, PJ Washington, and Rui Hachimura are residing on some boards. The new GM and coach value defense and team values over anything else, and Lauri is not the player this team drafted. Chandler Hutchinson is a guy that they really like, but they would rather have a point guard starting that isn’t someone like Kris Dunn or Cam Payne. Sure, they give up the 7th pick, but they net a better point guard than anyone they could get with that pick.

The Suns want any point guard that is a veteran and an All-Star. While Jrue is not an All-Star is the West, he would have been one in the East. They don’t need to add Richaun Holmes to the deal, but he is needed to make the math work. You could even add Josh Hart in the trade to make it work more if they get upset over only getting one player (and giving up the most players). However, they get the 10th pick, allowing them to target someone like Keldon Johnson, Jordan Nwora, or Cam Reddish (should he fall that far). They can get off of T.J. Warren, injury-prone Mikal Bridges, and troubled Josh Jackson. That alone is worth the trade, considering they also clear up a lot of long-term money and make some space for a potential (whiffed) blockbuster signing in the offseason.

I mean, looking at the trade, I really don’t see why either team would turn it down? And that is why the Pelicans would make this particular offer. They score some good wings and some VERY good bigs. They also can flip an injury prone PG and an All-Star for a ton of assets, especially the #6 and #7 pick. Sure, the guard depth of the Pelicans is depleted almost immediately, but they gain cap space. A lot actually. the combined salary of the players currently acquired (including Josh Hart) is roughly $54.46 million. Add in the drafted players first year salaries, then you are looking at an additional $15.447 million. The total salary of those 14 players is $69.907 million, which leaves them with roughly $39.093 million to play with in the free agency when compared to the salary cap ($109 million). That is prime All-Star and competent starter contracts. While they would be depleted at guard, they could easily make a ludicrous restricted offer to D-Lo or Malcolm Brogdon. They could sign Ricky Rubio, JJ Reddick, Darren Collison, and even (possibly) Danny Green. The amount of flexibility this trade will give them is ridiculous, especially considering they will be able to draft three out of these six players: Darius Garland, Coby White, Jarrett Culver, Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, and Goga Bitadze. Sure, the moves they made kind of eliminate the need for Hayes and Bitadze, so that leaves them being able to target three of the others.

If your mind is just as blown as mine was after reading this, then I am sorry for doing that to you. I hope you all you Pels fans start rooting for this to occur, since I want to see the talking heads on some sports sites get their minds blown like mine would be.

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Author: soft7buck

Just a dude with sick flow writing about his favorite things in the world...well, in the sports' world that is

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