Report: Pelicans ‘aggressively’ targeting first-round pick

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The Jrue Holiday trade could go down as one of the worst deals in NBA history.

Of course, the 76ers haven’t gotten a single second of playing time from the play anyone acquired in the deal with the Pelicans. It’s far from certain Philadelphia will even win the trade with full hindsight.

But the potential definitely exists for an all-time robbery.

New Orleans sent Philadelphia both Nerlens Noel and a first rounder which became the No. 10 pick this year. Noel, if not for injury, likely would have gone No. 1 last year. If he hasn’t lost any athleticism, he has star potential. In this draft, the 76ers could also land a gem at 10.

On the other side, Holiday has done nothing more than tread water with the Pelicans. You wonder whether they would have made the trade if Holiday didn’t hold the coveted “All-Star” label. And remember, Holiday received the less-significant “All-“ honor only because his 2012-13 season flowed in the “right” order. Here are his pre- and post-All-Star Game splits:

  • Pre: 19.0 points on 45.1 percent shooting with 8.9 assists per game
  • Post: 15.8 points on 38.9 percent shooting with 6.7 assists per game

Had those been reversed, Holiday never would have even made the All-Star team. New Orleans probably should have seen this coming, which is just another reason the trade holds potential as a heist for the ages.

Anyway.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

I bet the Pelicans wish they never traded the pick, but it’s too late now. They don’t have much to offer for a replacement first rounder.

Anthony Davis is far too valuable to trade. Eric Gordon, due to his contract and dispirited play, is too toxic. Holiday and Tyreke Evans are also paid too much to much to make a simple deal work, and I doubt New Orleans wants to admit defeat on either so soon. Austin Rivers’ value has probably sunk below a first rounder, especially in this loaded draft.

Ryan Anderson is the best trade candidate, but like others, his high salary ($8,308,500 on draft night) makes the cap complications difficult when the return is a pick that counts as $0 in a trade.

Maybe the Pelicans can trade future picks, but one future first rounder won’t buy a first rounder in this draft. Dealing future picks could get costly in a hurry.

New Orleans’ best bet might be getting  first rounder in exchange for taking a bad contract.

If Udonis Haslem opts in and the Heat want to pursue Carmelo Anthony, they might be open to trading the No. 26 pick as a sweetener for a team taking the final year of Haslem’s contract ($4.62 million). The Pelicans would have enough cap room to do that – on July 10. The teams could agree to a trade on draft night and complete it later, but Miami likely won’t even know then whether Haslem plants to opt in. The Heat probably wouldn’t let New Orleans dictate their first-round pick on the chance everything falls into line two weeks later.

If the Pelicans get a 2014 first-rounder, it’ll almost surely require a complicated trade.

If only it were was easy as dealing one away.