New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards

Pelicans shouldn’t be desperate to make trade for Otto Porter

The Washington Wizards are reportedly open for business, but the New Orleans Pelicans don’t need to make a desperate deal for Otto Porter.

Literally every day, things seem to be going further and further off the rails for the Washington Wizards. They are reportedly willing to trade at least one of John Wall and Bradley Beal, with Beal a more likely candidate to be moved. But some others, including Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, could be on the trade block too.

The New Orleans Pelicans are in better shape than the Wizards, with a three-game winning streak and a 10-7 record entering Tuesday. But they are also moving closer to an uncertain future, as Anthony Davis gets close to the end of his contract with 2019-20 the final guaranteed year and a player option for 2020-21. Trade rumors surrounding Davis have been prevalent, but the Pelicans are also in a measure of win-now mode that may push them to add more pieces around Davis.

On that note, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has speculated the Pelicans want to add an efficient 3-and-D player regardless of Davis’ future with the team. He passes along “whispers” New Orleans is interested in Porter.

“Porter is overpaid, but he’s proven to be an effective two-way player. He could thrive in Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo offense and add another versatile defender at forward for the Pelicans. If New Orleans were to make an offer for Porter, it would need to include over $20 million in contracts. Something like Hill, Julius Randle, and a first-round pick works.”

Porter is in the second year of a four-year, $106.5 million deal, as the Wizards matched a big offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets a couple offseasons ago. Coincidentally or not, he set career-highs in field goal percentage (51.6), 3-point percentage (43.4), effective field goal percentage (60.8) and True Shooting Percentage (62.8) in that 2016-17 contract year. His 3-point rate went up a bit last year, to just over 44 percent as he averaged a career-high 14.7 points per game, but so far this season Porter’s numbers have dropped off across the board.

As O’Connor cited, Porter could thrive in Alvin Gentry’s Warriors’-influenced fast-paced offense, and he’s been a capable defender for a Pelicans’ team that needs help on that end of the floor. O’Connor also laid out the pieces of a deal for Porter.

Solomon Hill has played in eight games this season, and he’s averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds over 17.8 minutes per game when he does play. His inclusion in a deal for Porter, since he’s making $12.7 million this year and $13.2 million next year, is strictly for salary-matching purposes.

A first-round pick might be a worthy cost for New Orleans in any trade since they’d expect it to be a late pick anyway. But the third piece of the hypothetical deal for Porter is another matter.

Randle signed a two-year deal (player option for the second year) with the Pelicans during the offseason, and he has predominantly come off the bench so far this season (three starts in 17 games). But he seems to be hitting a stride, with six double-doubles and a surprising triple-double Monday night in 10 November games. For the month thus far, he’s averaging 18 points, nine rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while converting nearly 60 percent from the floor.

Other potential trade targets for New Orleans, in the 3-and-D mold, include Kent Bazemore, Wesley Matthews, Courtney Lee and James Johnson. Like Porter, Bazemore and Johnson are expensive (though a little less so), while Matthews is expensive and broken down and Lee is 33 years old.

The Pelicans should move to add a better wing player who can shoot and defend if a reasonable deal can be done. While a change of scenery stands to benefit Porter, he brings with him a trail of underachievement that seems unlikely to automatically turn around with a new team. Randle could be at a peak in his trade value right now, but parting with him to make a deal for Porter work is a step too far.

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