Pelicans: Dumping Tyreke and Asik is the Clear Next Step


The word of the month has been “competence.” The Pelicans front office has set themselves on the right track, and should continue their progress with the relocation of Omer Asik and Tyreke Evans.

I’ve been critical of Dell Demps in the past, but i’ll give credit where credit is due. He has hired an intelligent strategic advisor in Danny Ferry, and he made two fantastic choices in the draft with both the 6th and 33rd picks this past month.

He isn’t out of the doghouse yet, but he’s moving in the right direction.

His next challenge will be Free Agency. He has a solid 20 million dollars to play around with, but the massive cap-flation of 2016 will render that money less useful than the casual fan would imagine. In all reality, he has enough fire to power to acquire one – maybe two useful contributors.

Getting rid of Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik would immediately double that flexibility, giving Demps 40 million dollars to play around with. Moving the controversial duo wouldn’t be easy, but it’s far from impossible under the modern NBA landscape.

Omer and Tyreke have proven to be less than ideal fits under head coach Alvin Gentry and would be more comfortable under different leadership. Tyreke’s brutish iso-heavy brand of offense doesn’t fit the dynamic offense Gentry envisions, and Asik’s traditional lane clogging presence undermines his affection for small-ball and transition play.

The most pressing issue to note about Tyreke is that he hurts Anthony Davis’ production. Moderator of /r/nolapelicans and BourbonStreetShots contributor LieutenantKumar pointed out an alarming down-tick in Davis numbers and efficiency when he shared the floor with Tyreke.

Even if we weren’t going to get 11 million in space for moving him, the fact that he’s a hindrance to AD’s production is reason enough to justify his relocation. The one and only goal of this organization should be to make AD happy and promote his talents, if someone gets in the way of that goal they need to be dealt.

Asik on the other hand was necessary a few years ago before AD gained weight and the league featured more traditional bigs, but AD is now fully capable of holding that position down. NBA experts such as Zach Lowe have stated that the Pelicans’ maximum potential is with Davis as the biggest guy on the court, and it’s only a matter of time until that’s his sole position.

The change is already taking place. Gentry liked Anderson more than Asik last year and Davis spent more than half his time at center.

Mar 16, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and forward Ryan Anderson (33) walk off the court during a time out during the fourth quarter of the game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. The Pelicans defeated the Kings 123-108. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Asik’s contract is a burden, but it’s hardly unmovable. He had a bad season this past year, but he’s still a run of the mill defensive lane clogging center.

Players like Festus Ezeli, Timofey Mozgov and Nene are all poised to make eight-figure annual salaries this summer and are just marginally more valuable than Asik.

At worst, Asik’s contract could be stretched. The “Stretch Provision” of the 2011 CBA allows teams to double the length of a players contract plus one season and space their payments over that period.

That would change Asik’s contract from a 33/3 to a 33/7 and would cost a team just 4.7 million per year, barely 4% of next offseason’s cap. Ideally, you might want to wait one more season before stretching Asik, in which case you’d be stuck with an even easier to manage 22/5 deal.

This free agency class isn’t deep when it comes to point guards and centers. After the large majority of center-seeking teams strike out on Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside, they’ll be left looking for cheaper and easy to acquire alternatives.

Meanwhile, when teams who strike out on Jeremy Lin, Brandon Jennings, and Ty Lawson would be ecstatic to get Tyreke for a similar price.

It’s really just a matter of finding a trade partner who will be un-competitive in free agency, but has aspirations to acquire talent.

Ideally, you’d want to find a team with enough interest in Tyreke that taking on Asik is a possibility. The Nets are a team who have been thrown around as the type of team who might be interested in a such a deal, which makes sense given their current outlook and immediate future.

If you’re the Nets, you have tons of money and no one to spend it on. Nobody wants to play for you, and you have traded away basically all your draft picks over the next half decade. You have limitless shots to go around and no one to take them. A guy like Tyreke could give you high volume production at a cost-effective price.

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If Tyreke were a free agent he could easily command a few 14-15 million dollar deals around the league, and would probably want closer to 17-18 million to play for the Nets. Getting him for 11 million a year seems like a deal if all you have to do is pay Asik 4.7 annually (that’s if you stretch).

The deal wouldn’t happen unless Tyreke was opening to re-signing, but if the Nets offered him a starting job as their point guard I can’t imagine he’d be uninterested. Tyreke probably isn’t chasing a ring and isn’t all to concerned about winning.

For Tyreke, being a starting point guard and getting to take 18 shots a game and run the offense through isolations and pick and rolls would be his dream.

The Brooklyn Nets are the perfect team to feed his inflated basketball ego.

Feb 25, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (1) passes as Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) defends during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Nets 102-96. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

At most, I could be talked into trading away a top 15-20 protected 1st rounder if the market for Tyreke and Asik was that scarce.

I’d have protection if the team were to fall apart again, but if they took off with whatever 40 million dollar free agents they signed the pros out outweigh the cons.

Losing the 18th pick in the draft isn’t a big deal if you sign two big name pieces and get back into the playoffs.

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Luol Deng, Chandler Parsons, Kent Bazemore, Nicolas Batum, and a plethora of other positionally versatile wings are available this summer.

If the Pelicans were to drop Tyreke and Asik, they could make some ultra competitive offers to those guys without hurting their long-term flexibility.

The Pelicans for instance could covet a guy like Paul George in 2018, while still signing a guy like Luol Deng to a supermassive short-term deal.

Deng will probably command 16-17 million a year if he wants long-term money, but the Pelicans could offer something which gives him annual totals in the 20+ million dollar range that only lasts a season or two instead.

May 5, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) tries to make a pass over Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) in game two of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won 96-92. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Following such an offer, the Pelicans would still have 15-20 million to spend on a few other role players and stop-gaps.

If all their deals were single season contracts, they could walk into 2017 with almost 80 million in cap space before re-signing Jrue Holiday.

This free agency will be one for the ages. Every team has space and the values of the contracts which have already been signed will increase after they become easier to absorb.

Pelicans fans have been conditioned / brainwashed to believe Tyreke and Asik are unmovable, but when the free agent well begins to dry teams will start searching for cheaper alternatives.

It’s up to Dell Demps to advertise Tyreke and Asik as those exact alternatives and try to pawn them off on someone else…..