Speculation about Pelicans’ trades bubbles

Focus on Evans, Rivers, Jackson

As Thursday’s NBA trading deadline fast approaches, Pelicans players names continue to surface.

Interestingly, speculation concerning guard Eric Gordon has died down. However, guard/forward Tyreke Evans remains a possibility, according to reports, while second-year guard Austin Rivers and NBA Development League star Pierre Jackson are trending now.

Coach Monty Williams said he didn’t expect any movement by the Pelicans.

“As far as I now, those guys are going to be here,” he said.

Gordon was once the hot topic in trade talk. His salary will be at $15 million the next two seasons, and he has a history of injuries. He has played in 52 of 55 games his season, but his salary still has teams uninterested.

Gordon was asked if he expected to be a Pelican come Thursday.

“I think I’ll be here, and I’ll be fine,” he said.

General Manager Dell Demps denied reports of the past month concerning trading Gordon and Evans, citing that no destination team is ever mentioned.

Asked why he would trust management’s word that he’s not being shopped, Gordon smiled.

“I’m not really worried about it,” he said. “I’ve been hearing stuff for years now.”

Evans, too, said he didn’t think there was any merit to the rumors, and also smiled when asked if he expected to be with the Pelicans.

“Definitely,” said Evans, who signed a four-year, $44 million contract last summer. “I would say that.”

Speculation concerning a Rivers-Jackson package is curious in that if Rivers were moved, it likely would be to create room for Jackson, whom Demps said “keeps pushing the envelope” with his performances in the D-League, where he is averaging 29.1 points per game and set a one-game record with 58 points last month.

However, the Pelicans appear crowded at guard. When Evans was obtained in a three-way trade in July, it seemed clear that he was being brought in to replace Gordon. Certainly both couldn’t be kept because of their salaries. All that was necessary was for Gordon to show that he is healthy and can last through grueling NBA seasons so that he could be moved.

However, Evans has been in and out of the lineup with a sprained left ankle, and with 3-point ace forward Ryan Anderson out with herniated discs in his neck, teams are more effective against Evans because they can pack the lane.

And backup point guard Brian Roberts has emerged since starter Jrue Holiday was lost on Jan. 10 with a stress fracture in his right tibia.

So speculation is that someone has to be moved, and that it would be Rivers because he hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 draft. However, Demps and Williams appear happy with him, although not satisfied.

“I thought he struggled last season, but he came on at the end, then he broke his hand,” Demps said. “I think he just needs to keep developing, keep getting better.”

The Pelicans hold the rights to Jackson, 5-feet-10, until the start of next season. The Denver Nuggets are said to want him as the backup to Ty Lawson and are ready to part ways with veteran Andre Miller, who doesn’t like first-year coach Brian Shaw’s system.

Jackson is too valuable to lose without getting compensation, although he may not be a good fit in New Orleans because of his height and concerns about him.

Morrow was brought in to team with Anderson and give the Pelicans a one-two 3-point punch. With Anderson out, he was expected to pick up the slack but has been inconsistent, which he says corresponds with his playing time.

Heading into the All-Star Game, though, he had a streak of games where he shot well. And he could be a valuable addition to a playoff team. Reports are that he can be obtained for a second-round draft choice, but at his salary of $1.15 million, that seems unlikely.