Report: Pelicans expect to lose Ryan Anderson in free agency, seeking trade

AP Photo/ Max Becherer
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However they want to characterize it, the Pelicans have been exploring Ryan Anderson trades for a while.

It’s probably time to make one.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The New Orleans Pelicans are pushing hard to find a trade for forward Ryan Anderson, whom they expect to lose in summer free agency, league sources said.

Teams trading for Anderson believe he’ll command a starting salary of $16 million-$18 million a season in free agency.

If the Pelicans expect to lose Anderson in free agency, they essentially have to trade him. They’re 20-33 and 6.5 games and four teams out of playoff position. Anderson would only hurt their lottery position the rest of his New Orleans tenure, because it’s extremely unlikely this team gets back in the postseason race.

It’s just a matter of finding the best offer for him.

One potential suitor, the Pistons, make far less sense now that they’ve traded for another forward in Tobias Harris. Detroit now has three forwards – Harris, Marcus Morris and Stanley Johnson – locked up the next three years. I wouldn’t completely rule out a deal built around Morris and Anderson, but it’s extremely difficult to see that coming to fruition.

The power forward-hungry Raptors would still make sense. Anderson, a stretch four, could space the floor next to Jonas Valanciunas – though there would be defensive questions.

If the Cavaliers are interested in Channing Frye – and I’m still unconvinced that’s not a bluff by Orlando – they should also be interested in Anderson. Anderson – a superior player who doesn’t carry the burden of a guaranteed salary next season – would also fit into their trade exception.

With its big financial commitments, Cleveland might prefer Anderson as a rental. Most other suitors would value his Bird Rights and the inside track to re-signing him. I wonder whether that $16 million-$18 million figure comes from Anderson’s agent. Anderson could assure certain teams he’d re-sign at that rate this summer, increasing his value to them – and, therefore, increasing what they offer New Orleans. That method, while needing to be done under the table, would also help Anderson pick his destination. I bring up that possibility, because I think, if Anderson pushes for it, he could draw even more – maybe even a max contract – on the open market.

The Pelicans still drive this process, which increasingly appears likely to end with a trade. Even if they get nothing but expiring contracts and a draft pick – which seems to be the bare minimum they could draw – that’s better than just letting him walk.