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Round-Up: Reaction To The Blazers' Trade Agreement For Pelicans C Robin Lopez

A round-up of reaction to the Portland Trail Blazers' trade agreement that lands New Orleans Pelicans center Robin Lopez in Portland.


Here's a round-up of reaction to the Portland Trail Blazers' trade agreement that lands New Orleans Pelicans center Robin Lopez in exchange for 2013 second-round pick Jeff Withey. Pelicans guard Terrel Harris, who is on a non-guaranteed contract for next season, is also reportedly headed to Portland.

The Blazers will also reportedly give up a future second-round pick to the Sacramento Kings as part of a larger three-way sign-and-trade agreement that sent guard Tyreke Evans from Sacramento to New Orleans in exchange for guard Greivis Vasquez.

Dave's thoughts...

The Blazers are clipping coupons in a designer league. As Marge Simpson taught us 17 years ago, when the inner circle at the country club wears Chanel and Louis Vuitton, you're not going to get by shopping at the outlet mall for long.

Yes, the Blazers can trumpet the value of these moves, but value doesn't indicate absolute quality. Wins and losses depend on talent, not on how smart a shopper you were in acquiring it. Did Miami get 50% off on LeBron James? Is whoever picks up Dwight Howard going to be lauded for their cunning and thrift?

I don't wish to disparage Robin Lopez or Thomas Robinson. They're fine people and fine players, I'm sure. But even they couldn't argue that they're among the prime catches of the bunch this summer, nor that they can be forecast to alter the fate of the franchise. They were good buys, but were they the right buys?

Dwight Jaynes, writes...

But at a certain point, you have to ask if you've moved the needle while filling up your salary cap. This was a poor defensive team last season and not much has been done to correct that so far this off-season. Lopez? Well, he's a better defender than JJ Hickson, for sure. But his New Orleans team last year was one of the few in the league even worse on defense than Portland. It would be unfair to hold him responsible for a big Portland improvement. Robinson? Nope, at least not at this point of his career.

The bench was historically weak last season and hasn't gotten a lot better so far, either. It's gotten a year older, in the case of Victor Claver, Joel Freeland and Will Barton -- but we've yet to see how much improvement that will bring. C.J. McCollum? Perhaps... but let's not forget all rookies don't turn out like Damian Lillard.

John Canzano, The Oregonian writes...

Olshey's moves haven't been splashy. They've been calculated, wise, and --- good. The moves on draft day alone caused one Portland basketball operations staffer to say, "We're already a better team than last year and free agency hasn't even started." There's training camp, and things happen, but the Blazers already see McCollum with important minutes, and Crabbe as an upgrade on their bench from last season, and Lopez as a solid starter. At the very least, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge won't have to play center, and Lopez takes the pressure off second-year man Meyers Leonard. Yes, Olshey got that for two second-round picks and some lettuce.

Again, the 100-level honks will be unimpressed. They wanted Dwight Howard. But the 300-level fan knows that Olshey arrived last summer to find a deserted roster, and he's trying now to make magic without any pixie dust on his wand.

Olshey's added depth with Lopez, McCollum, Crabbe and Robinson. In getting those players he's given up Withey, Kostas Papanikolau, Marko Todorovic', four future second-round draft picks, and cash. It's not sexy stufff, it's not going to make anyone rush to buy season tickets, but what happening here is that the Blazers are in a walk toward legitimacy with Olshey leading the way.

Mike Tokito of The Oregonian writes...

Is this a home run? No, but the Blazers did a get a center who could help them. Lopez started all 82 games and averaged 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 26 minutes a game, all career-highs. It's hard to really flesh out his numbers, though, as New Orleans played at snail's pace, ranking No. 30 in the league in pace.

Lopez is a 7-foot center with five years of NBA experience who's played in two completely different styles with the Suns and Hornets.

David MacKay of writes...

Lopez isn't much for defense either. While he does a passable job down low, he gets absolutely abused in the pick and roll. Even stopping spot up shooters is a struggle for him. These problems stem from the same juvenile microbe that plagues Meyers Leonard; poor footwork. They both need some rapid development if Portland expects either to be true a rim protector.

Now that I've deflated your excitement (or perhaps just renewed your uneasiness), Lopez is not at all a horrible player. He scores almost exclusively in the restricted area and boasted an impressively efficient 53.4 FG% last season (69.1% at rim). He is also a terrific free throw shooter for a center (just like Leonard) and is capable of playing heavy minutes if needed. If nothing else, he's a massive individual that can body the leagues larger centers.

Lopez is a temporary fix, and while we were hoping for more, I don't think anyone expects him to exceed this assumption. If the Blazers are smart (they are) they'll bring him off the bench and dedicate the lion's share of the minutes to Meyers Leonard's development, as he has more long term potential. There has been a disturbing lack of faith in the former rookie among fans after just one season, and the Blazers would be wise to give him more time before prematurely declaring a bust. Lillard has spoiled us all.

Kevin Pelton of writes...

Portland: B+

The Blazers have been in the market for a starting center, and they got one at a good price, even after a 15 percent trade kicker is applied to the final two seasons of Lopez's contract. That puts him at about $6 million a year, far less than Portland would have paid for one of the top free agents on the market. At 25, Lopez is still young enough to have some upside, and he's coming off the best year of his career, when he posted 5.4 WARP for the Pelicans.

Portland got destroyed around the rim last season, and Lopez, an above-average shot blocker who also defends the pick-and-roll well, will help what was by far its biggest need. Lopez is weak on the defensive glass, if not quite as bad as he looked last year playing frequently alongside Davis, and a frontcourt of Lpoez and LaMarcus Aldridge will be a rebounding liability. But you can't have everything at the price for which Portland got Lopez.

Matt Moore, writes...

Meanwhile, the Blazers would do really well in this deal, depending on what they give up. They need a center, badly, with starter J.J. Hickson an underwhelming free agent. Lopez fits perfectly next to LaMarcus Aldridge and instantly makes the team better while not surrendering a massive contract.

Rohan at writes...

As part of the three team deal with Sacramento and Portland that netted them restricted free agent guard Tyreke Evans, New Orleans also received the 39th overall pick of the 2013 draft, Jeff Withey.

It's a move I'm unequivocally excited about; Dell Demps absolutely, absolutely crushed it here.


But in terms of purely defense, rebounding, and size next to Anthony Davis, Jeff Withey was an outstanding addition to the Pelicans roster today. He'll figure to make close to at least $20M less than Robin Lopez over the next four seasons while replicating many of his skills and very possibly bringing significantly better defensive rebounding and defense.

Writers at react in a roundtable...

1. Did the New Orleans Pelicans give up too much for Tyreke Evans (and Jeff Withey) by sending Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez to the Kings in the sign and trade?

Michael McNamara: In my opinion, no. Look, they were going to have to waive or trade Lopez any way just to be able to extend the offer sheet to Tyreke and Greivis Vasquez had no place on this roster with all the guards we have here now. You can argue that maybe you could have traded those two elsewhere and called Sacramento's bluff. Maybe they would have chose not to match and you get Tyreke plus a late 1st round or 2nd round pick in that scenario. But is it really worth risking losing Lopez and Evans? I don't think it is; not for two of the slowest players I have ever seen in a Hornets uniform. New era, moving forward; goodbye lead feet, hello speed!


Mason Ginsberg: In a vacuum, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, no. First of all, making this move is FAR better than Tyreke signing the Pelicans' offer sheet and hoping that the Kings don't match. The result of that could have been swapping out Robin for pennies on the dollar and Tyreke staying in Sacramento. Making this move gives the Pelicans cap space to make subsequent moves to complete the roster, and that is key. The fact that the team also added Withey cannot be overlooked, either. He was a player projected to be drafted as early as right around pick 20 who ended up sliding into the second round, and yet he could very well be the Pelicans' starting center (though only getting 10-15 minutes) on opening night.

Jason Calmes: Absolutely not. Lopez and Vasquez outperformed all expectations, and the tendency is to that think that increase will persist ad infinitum, or at least consider the possibility that some buried talent treasure is somewhere in there. Likely, teams will have adjusted to their newfound level of play, and the improvement will be stifled. The Pelicans now have two assets who will likely be of at least equal production with who could very well be undervalued. They also gave up some cap flexibility in the future, which should not be understated. Overall, however, worth it for the Pelicans.

Section 214, writes...

A side note to all of this is the Robin Lopez component. I think that I am once again valuing Lopez higher than the front office. Lopez is due to make $5.1m and $5.3m over the next two years. That's not a bad price for a defensive-minded center. Lopez would provide more defensive interior presence than anyone since Samuel Dalembert. He is not a plus-rebounder, but that happens sometimes with guys that are busy altering shots (his rebounding rate is on a par with Marc Gasol, for example). I can't see why the Kings wouldn't keep him, unless there is something else brewing that we don't know about. I'm OK with receiving 2nd round picks for Lopez instead of Jeff Withey (who is reportedly headed to the Pelicans in this deal), as I think that those picks may be ultimately used to obtain good players from other teams that are looking to shed contract, or as pieces to other future trades. Again, so much is contingent on the next deal...if that deal is indeed forthcoming.

Embreystine of writes...

I've never been a fan of Robin Lopez's game, and I certainly wouldn't want him on the books for over 5 million next year if I'm the Kings front office. If Portland absorbs his contract, as has been reported, the Kings will maintain flexibility to make more acquisitions in the coming weeks.

My thoughts at right here.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter