The New Orleans Pelicans are looking to get creative in their effort to bring in a small forward, an NBA source said Wednesday morning.
Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps acquired center Omer Asik in a trade with the Houston Rockets on June 25, addressing the Pelicans’ biggest need of the offseason.
Obtaining a starting-level small forward is next on the Pelicans’ need list, but the $8.3 million that Asik will be paid this coming season is an impediment according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no statement has been released by the Pelicans.
“The method of obtaining (the small forward) could take something unconventional,” the source said. “It could take a trade.”
That could involve a third team. As always, Eric Gordon’s name has surfaced. So has Austin Rivers, although ridding his salary alone, at $2.44 million this season, would not appear to be enough.
Teams also have inquired about obtaining 3-point shooting power forward Ryan Anderson, even though he is coming off surgery in April to repair bulging disks in his neck. His salary for this coming season, though, is $8.4 million.
Asik’s deal will become official July 11. Salary-cap constraints have made it all but impossible to sign a free agent. The two free agents considered perhaps the most desirable for the Pelicans, who would fit the team’s need and schemes, are Houston’s Chandler Parsons and the Phoenix Suns’ P.J. Tucker.
Both made minimum salaries last season: Parsons at $964,750 and Tucker at $884,293. Of course, now that they are on the open market, things have changed drastically. They are priced way out of the Pelicans’ reach. Parsons reportedly wants $10 million per season. Tucker is seeking $7 million per season. And he is a restricted free agent after the Phoenix Suns extended a qualifying offer of $1,148,163, meaning they can match an offer.
Meanwhile, Darius Miller, who became an unrestricted free agent Monday when the Pelicans did not extend an offer by the June 30 deadline, remains in the picture with New Orleans, the source said.
However, Demps’ higher and more immediate priority is trying to bring back guard Anthony Morrow.
The Pelicans reached out to him Wednesday. Morrow finished fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (45.1) last season, averaged 9.4 points off the bench and played well down the final stretch. Moreover, he became a respected leader on a young team.
Morrow, who made $1.1 million last season, opted out of the second year of the deal, which would have paid a similar salary. Demps acknowledged that Morrow had proven himself worthy of a better contract after a down season in 2012-13 with Atlanta and Dallas. However, the Pelicans’ GM said he would let this summer’s free-agency process play out.
Morrow reportedly was set to meet with the Detroit Pistons this week, but they signed former Lakers guard Jodie Meeks, who can play shooting guard and point guard, has been a starter, and is more of a play-maker. The Pistons are not expected to re-sign guard Rodney Stuckey.