The Wizards and Pelicans have quite a bit in common. They both feature generational talent from Kentucky, they tend to trade a lot of draft picks, and they both have a lot of money invested in centers.
In June, the two teams crossed paths when the Wizards traded their 52nd overall pick to New Orleans in exchange for Tim Frazier. The trade helped Washington address their backup point guard situation, and freed up the Pelicans to sign Rajon Rondo to a one-year deal to help take the team to the next level as they try to convince DeMarcus Cousins to stay in New Orleans.
With that in mind, it’s important to have a feel for what went on in New Orleans last season and what to expect this season. So we reached out to Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes to get his perspective on Tim Frazier’s performance as a Pelican and what the team would be looking for if they had to shop DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline.
How would you rate Tim Frazier's performance in New Orleans last season?
Tim Frazier was a mixed bag through and through, but most overlook the fact that his campaign would have finished markedly stronger were it not for an inconsistent role.
Through the first 30 games on the schedule, Frazier's minutes were steady, hovering around 30 minutes per game, and he was averaging 10.8 points, 7.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds, with solid shooting percentages to boot. Then Tyreke Evans returned from injury and seized a spot in the rotation. Honestly, Frazier was on pace was to have a more impactful season than Darren Collison in Sacramento; however, once Alvin Gentry decided to roll with Jrue Holiday and Evans exclusively, Frazier's confidence shattered amid a slew of DNP's and his numbers crashed down to a mind-numbing plateau.
During the 2015-16 season, we witnessed the same Jekyll and Hyde out of Frazier. With the Trail Blazers, Frazier's minutes were beyond sporadic and he barely made a dent in most box scores, but once he enjoyed a much larger role in New Orleans, he blossomed into a decent floor leader.
Now, due to his stature limitations and average talent level, Frazier should never be confused with a daily starting point guard in the league, but if given a consistent role and hidden among solid defenders, he can be a positive contributor who can lead an offense to above average results. For instance, he took a mash unit of names like James Ennis, Toney Douglas, Alexis Ajinca and Luke Babbitt and bettered the offensive rating posted by the starters earlier in the season that had included the likes of Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson.
What are your thoughts on Tim Frazier as a shooter? It seems like at times he's been able to put together some efficient stretches, but on the whole, his numbers haven't been great. Do you think that's a part of his game that he can develop, or should he just stay focused on what he can do well?
If one looks at the months where his average minutes eclipsed 25+ during the last two seasons, Frazier showed the ability to sink the outside jumper. In those 1394 minutes, he compiled a 39.3 three-point FG%. However, realize those 107 attempts came in 48 games — he isn’t comfortable launching threes unless they’re of the wide open variety. Still, that’s more than adequate for a reserve point guard, especially if he shares the floor with at least several more confident gunners.
The question remaining is whether Frazier can learn to maintain similar efficiency with less minutes albeit in a stable role. He’s never been afforded that opportunity. In addition, given the fact that he’s a supremely hard worker, odds are some further development might be possible. If he can find that happy medium in a smaller amount of minutes, the production could follow.
When the Tim Frazier trade went down in late June, it seemed like a lot of Pelicans fans were puzzled by the move. Now that Holiday is back and the team signed Rondo to a one-year deal, have your opinions changed on the deal at all?
Forewarning: I may not be the right person to ask this question because my opinion hasn't changed since first hearing the news of the trade.
While it was easy to fall in love with the person right away, I’ve always known Tim Frazier functioned best as depth on the roster. Of course there was still value in this because he adequately performed his duties at times, scrapped harder than most opponents and developed a chemistry with his teammates. Yet at the end of the day, I understood he was a replacement level player.
Had the Pelicans made the playoffs the last two seasons and were trending in a positive direction, sending Tim Frazier away for a late second round pick would have raised eyebrows everywhere, but considering New Orleans desperately needed to upgrade the talent around Anthony Davis, the move was entirely logical from the start.
HYPOTHETICALLY, let's say the Pelicans get off to a bad start. What do you think would be a fair asking price for DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline HYPOTHETICALLY?
If the Pelicans get off to a third straight tragic start, Dell Demps and the rest of the front office absolutely need to field calls on Cousins. DeMarcus is an ultimate competitor who has been forced to dream about postseasons since entering the league. That’s not good considering the 2017-18 season will be his eighth in the association, and hence why so many in New Orleans believe that no playoff berth is equivalent to no Cousins re-signing.
Any team trading for Cousins needs to understand they will probably have a difficult time signing him to a long-term contract despite owning his Bird Rights because Boogie will be just two years away from a 10-year maximum contract. Considering Cousins was likely to sign a designated player veteran extension with the Kings, I can see him wanting to wait for a 35 percent of the salary cap contract when first eligible. On the flip side, Cousins is known to be fiercely loyal. Treat him well, make the playoffs and he’s having fun all the while, there’s a good chance he’ll decide to call it home as long as his front office plays ball with his demands.
A fair asking price is difficult to conclude in a vacuum, but let’s give it a shot. A team that still fields Anthony Davis is going to seek to win now so either Bradley Beal or Otto Porter would have to highlight the return. If there is strong competition for Cousins services from other teams, I would expect the Wizards to be forced to sweeten the pot by taking some dead weight and/or offering good future assets which the Pelicans could then use to flip to another team.
So let's say HYPOTHETICALLY that the Wizards weren't willing to part with Beal or Porter. How good would Kelly Oubre have to be next season to be the focal point of a Cousins trade package where the Wizards also absorb salary and send over picks? Again, I can't stress enough that this is just a random thing that just came to my head and not something I've been pondering for months. This is purely hypothetical.
H Y P O T H E T I C A L
Kelly Oubre would have to make such an incredible leap in his play that he would have to challenge for the Most Improved Player Award next season. Seriously.
Despite Cousins playing in the final year of his contract, New Orleans isn't going to trade him for pennies on the dollar regardless of their place in the standings -- Dell Demps has never gone that route (see Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson). Then when you consider Boogie looks to be on the verge of putting together his most successful season to date and understand the Wizards certainly won't be the lone team competing for his services, Oubre being the centerpiece of any deal is spitting in the face of reality.
No, Washington's best bet to facilitate a trade for Cousins and not involving Beal/Porter would have to entail a third or maybe a fourth team to supply New Orleans with the talent it would seek in return. As I've written, the Pelicans with or without Boogie will be committed to a playoff run thanks to Davis' presence, so absorbing some salary and receiving middling picks have no chance of tipping the scales in the Wizards favor.
Well, we tried. Our thanks to Oleh for putting up with our badgering about Cousins. Make sure you check out The Bird Writes for all your Pelicans coverage.