Trade Rumor: Howard on the move again


After dealing prolific outside shooter Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mike Dunleavy Jr., Mo Williams and a 2019 first-round pick, it appeared the Atlanta Hawks were giving up on their current roster and taking calls about every player on their team. The most mentioned names were defensive forward Thabo Sefolosha and All-Star power forward Paul Millsap, but there was one team who reached out about the asking price of newly signed center Dwight Howard.


The New Orleans Pelicans have been missing a truly helpful player at the five spot since the team’s inception in 2013. Current big men Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik have combined for a measly 7.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season, while Howard is scoring 13.9 and pulling in 13.3 rebounds a game in a career low 29.4 minutes per game. His efficiency is the highest on the Hawks at 22.73 and he is shooting a career high 64 percent from the field.


The talks between the two franchises never got much momentum behind them per ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Apparently, the talks fell through for two reasons. The first being the apparent withdraw of Millsap from the rumor mill as the Hawk’s front office claimed they would hold onto the offensive forward through the remainder of the season. The second and biggest reason for the failed negotiation would be the Pelicans’ lack of team identity.


Only One Key Player

Other than the superstar player they have in Anthony Davis the team hasn’t established itself in regards to a style of play they are known for. Davis, when healthy, has been spending a large amount of time at the center position, and getting results for it. The big man from Kentucky is averaging 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, but it is unclear if the team is willing to move him fulltime to that spot.


The main reason against moving The Brow to the five would be the more grueling and physical aspect needed to play that position. His health has been coming into question more and more as of the last few seasons, and moving him to a more physically taxing position might not be good for his long-term success.


Lack of Support

Outside of Davis the team only has two players left from their most effective lineup of the last few seasons after both Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon took first-class to Houston. Point guard Jrue Holiday has proven he is the second-best player on that team, but with a distinct lack of shooting it is hard for him to spread the floor and make plays. Tyreke Evans still has suffered a major drop off after missing most of last year with an injury. With his contract expiring we might see another member of New Orleans’ core vanish into the pit that is Free Agency should they decide to skip out on paying him the big bucks he might desire.


Two notable standouts that could fetch a nice going rate on the trade market if the Pelicans do mix things up. Terrence Jones, who signed a deal with the team after leaving the Rockets, has been putting up over 10 points and nearly 7 rebounds while coming off the bench for the Pelicans. Meanwhile, Tim Frazier has put up 9.6 points and 6.5 assists in his expanded role with the Pelicans.


Jones’ absence would hit hard as a backup and occasional co-starter for Davis, but might entice a team to absorb either Solomon Hill or E’Twaun Moore’s contract, which roughly combine for around 20 million per season, since those two haven’t panned out like the team wanted.


Frazier on the other hand will be seeing a large decrease in minutes as Holiday makes a full comeback and, god forbid, stays healthy for the Pels. This means that the asking price will likely never be this high for him again and if they think an offer using his contract will net them a significant return is available, it would be in their best interest to act fast.


Without going into too much detail, this trade is unlikely for a few more reasons. If they do trade for Dwight the Pelicans will likely be unable to add more depth or another big player in Free Agency. His 23-million-dollar contract might be nothing compared to some of the deals on the market, but it still takes up a lot of room on their salary list.


Alvin Gentry is more inclined to run a free-flowing offense, Dwight would hurt this strategy immensely, like how he harmed the Rockets’ fast tempo in the previous season. It might cause more harm than good unless the management is ready to move onto another Head Coach already.


Bringing in Howard

This next part is just speculation on my part, however, this is the most likely trade to happen should this deal go through, without involving a third team.


Firstly, the Pelicans would need to dish out enough salary to match Howard’s.


Second, whoever is sent to the Hawks must either be serviceable or have upside for the team to take advantage of for the future.


And lastly, remember that picks and a third team are more than likely going to get involved should this happen. I will list a few teams who might bite at this deal and what picks might end up in the mix.


The two main pieces of this trade will be Jones and Howard. Jones gives the Hawks a young and talented forward who can provide off the bench, and a little insurance in case Millsap leaves never hurt. Howard will obviously headline the pieces headed to New Orleans.


Next Hill and Asik will ship out to Atlanta to balance the Howard and the other salaries. The Hawks are known for developing wings and guards, a recent example of Bazemore to show that, so Hill might become a nice piece for them off the bench that they can eventually flip for assets. The Hawks will likely waive Asik or he will warm the bench for Splitter or Muscala. His contract coming off the books for NOLA will probably cost them a pick though.


If the Hawks wanted to they could dump Sefolosha into the mix and free up some quality minutes for their younger players.


If the Chicago Bulls want to hop in and grab Sefolosha or maybe Tim Frazier for a lower price than they could in a solo deal, this might be the ideal opportunity to do so. They might be able to dump Rondo and pick up a young guard who can shoot in exchange. This deal would also include Evans as he and Frazier head to Chicago in exchange for Rondo.


A protected first-round pick would likely head toAtlanta’s way to part with Asik’s salary and make the money match Howard and his salaray.


This deal helps the Pelicans’ compete for the last spot in the West, but for the long term it might be smarter to gather assets now and trust the process.

About Cale Michael

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