Predicting the NBA awards during the offseason is always tough to get right, but everyone loves whacking together a few bold predictions to see how wrong they are this time next year.
I was on board with the New Orleans Pelicans rebranding. Sure, it’s a funny looking bird that is about as fearsome as a carp and sure, in my childhood we used the word as an insult when someone made a silly off-handed comment.
But hey, if the locals love it that’s all that matters.
Even better that everyone else acted with such incredulity as it creates an us-versus-them attitude that emotionally enlists the casual fan who can’t believe those northern folk would dare mock their proud state bird.
Then the Pelicans decided to trade two first-rounders for Jrue Holiday and offered $40-48 million to Tyreke Evans.
And I realised that these guys are definitely pelicans.
The Jrue Holiday trade at first glance makes some sense – you got an All-Star, great trade.
But you gave up two high level draft picks.
Those picks are, if you do your job as a front office, typically players who you should contribute more than their three-to-five million dollar salary, giving you on court production and valuable cap flexibility.
In Jrue Holiday they got a guy who is perhaps a top 10 player at his position, maybe if you squint real hard.
Though which six guys does he beat out from: Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, John Wall, Mike Conley, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, Damian Lillard, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague, Ricky Rubio and Kyle Lowry?
Sure, he was the driving force for the Sixers and got an All-Star berth.
But that was predominantly on the strength of his start to the season and his season efficiency stats ranked towards the bottom of the league’s starting point guards.
Also worrying is how low his true shooting percentage remains for a guy who is supposedly a sweet three point shooter.
His on-ball defence is above average, which isn’t ever picked up in those numbers, but even in that area he’s more above average rather than a creator of havoc.
And the Pelicans just gave two prime assets to pay him $40 million. You can come to terms with the price tag on the contract but the two first rounders?
Wow, that is steep when you consider how good lottery point guards have been from the last four or five drafts.
Speaking of lottery point guards, there was one guy from those drafts who looked like the real deal but turned out to be a wing masquerading in a point’s body – Tyreke Evans.
The Holiday deal looks like a red light special at K-Mart compared to $40 to $48 million for Tyreke Evans.
Evans was quietly back to his rookie level last year, a backhanded compliment if there ever was one, but remains a ball dominant wing who can’t shoot and has never been taught to play defence.
Some pundits wondered aloud if any team would offer him a two or three year deal at above the $7 million qualifying offer and here are the Pelicans with four years and over $40 million.
It is fine to fill your team with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, or Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, or Westbrook and Kevin Durant etc and worry about how to distribute the ball later.
But Evans, Eric Gordon and Holiday? Not really in the same class of creative ball dominant attacking forces.
So come next year, if the Evans contract offer is sensibly allowed to go through to the keeper by the Kings, the Pelicans will be paying their starting ‘smalls’ of Holiday/Gordon/Evans $33-38 million a year against a $58.5 million cap?
Now Holiday and Evans both have some growth left in them. So maybe they end up being decent buys at the hefty price paid.
But those one cent stocks from an internet pop up add might end up being great value too.
New Orleans, your team is a bunch of Pelicans.