NBA fans that were briefly excited at the thought of Kentucky products Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel pairing in New Orleans got a rude shock just minutes after Noel was drafted by the Pelicans. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported just after the selection that Noel would soon be off to Philadelphia, with a first round selection in next year’s draft, for hybrid guard Jrue Holiday.
The initial take? Jrue is a young All-Star that can score efficiently and help run an offense at times, but for a potential game-changing defensive center? And a first round pick next season?
This appears to be the case. Noel was long rumored to be the impending top selection in this year’s draft, but it’s also true that this isn’t your typical NBA draft. There is no standout top overall pick, as evidenced by the borderline-shocking selection of UNLV’s Anthony Bennett (thought by some to be a nice top seven or eight selection) first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even if New Orleans only chose Noel to stash now, and deal later … couldn’t they have gotten more than Holiday, who is already on his second contract, making over $9 million a year?
The second possible frustration for Pelicans fans is also the status of Eric Gordon. The then-Hornets matched a contract offer last summer to pay Gordon over $58 million between 2012 and 2016, and he repaid them with an indifferent season that has some questioning both his motivation and health, on top of the worries that an undersized shooting guard may not be worth the average of nearly $15 million a year.
New Orleans had been rumored to be attempting to move Gordon, which is just fine, but now the team’s leverage is shot to bits with rival GMs now considering Holiday’s placement, and the over $44.5 million he’ll be owed over the next three seasons.
Meanwhile, Noel’s trip to Philadelphia finally signals a true rebuild. It’s still possible that Noel (who won’t be able to play until the winter after tearing his ACL earlier this year) could line up alongside Andrew Bynum, but it’s more than likely Bynum will not play a single game with the 76ers, and leave as a free agent this summer. As if Andrew was ever there (or anywhere, save for handicapped spaces) to begin with.
On top of all that? When asked in the draft press room about a possible trade to Philadelphia, Noel pointed out the team’s “All-Star point guard, in Jrue Holiday.”
The first trade of the 2013 NBA draft was a goofy one, befitting this unique collection of draftees.