Many expected the Pelicans to challenge for a spot in the top echelon of the Western Conference. Instead, through two months of the season, New Orleans is idling in the cellar and the team’s defense is a major reason why. The Pelicans are hemorrhaging points, allowing 107.1 per game, with the Lakers the only team to allow more.
Despite the defensive letdowns and the 10-20 start, the team sits only three games back of the Jazz for the eighth seed in the conference entering Monday’s contests. There’s still time to turn the season around and tonight’s shootaround is about the moves that New Orleans should make. If I were in GM Dell Demps‘ seat, I would give a call to the Magic and try to work a trade for Channing Frye.
The Arizona product was reportedly available for very little return prior to the start of the season, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com, although the big man’s play, along with Orlando’s win total this season, probably raises the asking price. The Magic found success inserting Frye into the starting lineup last month, going 11-5 since the move, and they sit in the thick of the playoff hunt with a record of 17-13 on the year. Still, I speculate that an offer of Omer Asik and a protected first-round pick would get the attention of GM Rob Hennigan since the 32-year-old Frye doesn’t fit into the Magic’s long-term plans.
Frye has been a stalwart on the defensive end this season. He ranks fourth among power forwards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus and he ranks 14th among all players in Possession Adjusted Points Saved per 36 minutes, an advanced stat developed by Seth Partnow of Nylon Calculus to measure rim protection. His offense has been excellent, especially from downtown, where he is making 46.9% of his attempts, which is good for third in the league this season.
Frye has played less than 20% of his minutes this season at the center position, but he has proven over his career he is comfortable playing the five. New Orleans could form a lethal unit that could spread the floor with Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Frye sharing the frontcourt. With the addition of Frye, the Pelicans could also shop Anderson in hopes of adding an upgrade on the wing.
Tell us what you think of this hypothetical trade and let us know what you would do if you were running the show in New Orleans. Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the matter. We look forward to what you have to say.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.