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NBA New Orleans Pelicans Ryan Anderson

Should The Raptors Pursue Pelicans Ryan Anderson

Last year Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri stood pat at the NBA trade deadline, but when the season was over, he as much admitted that was a mistake. Although the situation is different this time around, it’s not completely different as no one is really sure just what this version of his team will produce come playoff time.

The trade pickings are suspect at this point and depending on your team’s need – thin, but there are situations like the New Orleans Pelicans where proven stretch-four Ryan Anderson is rumored to be available for the right price. Basketball Insiders Steve Kyler reports,

Pelicans sources admitted that moving Anderson was likely to happen just because of the business of the situation, but cautioned that New Orleans wouldn’t do a bad deal just to make a trade

With the NBA trade deadline set on Thursday February 18 at 3pm ET, there isn’t a lot of time left for a GM to set his sights on a target that could make a real difference to his team in the second half and in the postseason. In Toronto, with DeMarre Carroll expected to return soon after the All-Star break to fill the hole at small forward, the only real position of need is at power forward and that’s only because Patrick Patterson is back in a shooting slump.

NBA Toronto Raptors Patrick Patterson

Toronto’s “3-and-D” forward has been struggling with his shot going back to last December and while his defense remains consistent and Patterson remains a Coach Casey favorite, the Raptors have been missing his offense all too often. Maybe it’s time to consider trading Patterson?

it’s been over a year since this “3-and-D” stretch-four has enjoyed a month shooting over 34 percent from three-point range  (52.6 percent, December 2014). Two of his last three months have been in the mid-20s. (December 2015 25.8 percent, April 2015 27.3 percent).

It looked like Patterson had turned things around in the first two weeks of January when he was firing three-balls at a 50 percent clip, but since then it’s back to the mid-20s from deep and only a Raptors winning streak has kept this from becoming a problem. Ujiri has to be feeling the pressure to upgrade at this position after last season’s post All-Star break malaise.

Despite his struggles, the 26-year-old Patterson is developing other aspects of his game. His ability to drive and finish is improving rapidly and he is getting to more contested rebounds this season, but it’s his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the post continues to be the primary reason why Casey will be reluctant to lose his services. Patterson is under contract for a very reasonable $6 million next season.

At 27-years-old, Anderson is in the final year of a deal that pays him $8.5 million this season and the Pelicans are not expected to be interested in matching what he’s likely to fetch in free agency this summer and that’s if Anderson wants to rejoin a lottery team as a backup to Anthony Davis.

Primarily coming off the bench, Anderson is averaging 17.4 points and 6 boards and is shooting 40 percent from three-point range this year. He has the offensive talent to win games and has four games of 30 or more points already this season. His overall rebounding numbers closely approximate Patterson’s, although Anderson has been a lot better on the offensive glass than Patterson over his career.

While Casey might be more comfortable with Patterson’s defense, Anderson is an obvious upgrade talent-wise as described by Bourbon Street Shots Michael McNamara,

Despite just having a few months on his contract, Anderson has good value around the league. He has a skill set that opens up an offense, as he draws big men out of the paint, and can hurt opponents with a post game and offensive rebounding if they put a smaller guy on him. The Pelicans have chosen not to crash the offensive glass a lot this year, in favor of defensive transition, but in a league that is playing more small ball, Anderson could tilt a series down low.

CBS Sports Matt Moore suggests the Pelicans will be looking for players that fit with Coach Alvin Gentry’s (defensive) system for what they see as a valuable asset,

If he’s paired with a good enough defensive scheme and rim protector, you’ve got the best of what the modern stretch four can offer

As for what the Pelicans would want, you’d have to assume they want some guard depth with their lukewarm approach towards Norris Cole, and to add some defensive forwards who can also run in Alvin Gentry’s system.

Sliding Anderson in place of Patterson beside Bismack Biyombo could be just what the Raptors need to take things to the next level in April.

If the Raptors are willing to pair Patterson with a young guard like Norman Powell or Delon Wright plus a first round draft pick, the 18-29 lottery bound Pelicans will have trouble turning it down for the expiring contract of Anderson.

That would be a lot for the Raptors to give up for a player who could move on in free agency in July. However, when your season will be evaluated based on how your team performs in the playoffs and your GM has admitted he’s overstocked with developing players and draft picks, the price suddenly doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

It’s a risk worth taking and if it Anderson performs as expected, Toronto can dig into their corporate owners’ very deep pockets to re-sign him.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.