Former Terp Greivis Vasquez will never be an elite NBA guard, but he proved last season that he's plenty effective when given opportunities for sustained involvement. In just over 34 minutes per game (over 78 starts), he gave the New Orleans Hornets 14 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds -- all career highs, and enough for him to notch a 16.34 PER in spite of mediocre shooting shooting percentages for a point guard.
The new-look Pelicans, though, have decided to upgrade. After they drafted Kentucky center Nerlens Noel sixth overall, the 'Cans traded him to Philadelphia for 76ers point guard Jrue Holliday in a deal that also involved swapped picks. The 6-foot-4, speedy Holliday averaged an 18-8-4 line last season for the lousy Sixers, though he's no great shakes as a shooter, either, and posted a PER nearly identical to Vasquez's: 16.74. But that doesn't mean Holliday wasn't clearly acquired to start; there's very little chance the Pelicans got him to be their sixth man.
Given the presence of Eric Gordon at the shooting guard spot, this almost certainly means Vasquez's days as a permanent starter for the team are over until further notice. As some smartly noted in the comments last night, Gordon's body is made of paper mache. He gets hurt all the time, and given Vasquez's size, he has and should continue to see time at shooting guard. He's set to be the team's primary backup at both guard slots, though I'm not sure how ready the Pelicans are to give up on likely bust Austin Rivers, the former Duke guard who was all kinds of terrible as a rookie last season.
Credit to discuit for finding and quickly translating Vasquez's remarks on Twitter after the deal went down:
Lo que vaya a pasar es lo mejor para mi carrera... Asi que no se preocupen que yo voy a estar bien en donde sea...— Greivis Vasquez (@greivisvasquez) June 28, 2013
In English, that's: "Whatever happens is best for my career. So don't worry, I will do well wherever."
Hmm. "Wherever." Does that mean as a backup or sixth man? Does that mean as a starter on another team? On another bench? Vasquez would definitely have some trade value, though it's tough to peg how much. My guess? He'd bring in at least a decent first-round pick, even if it's coupled with a bad contract. Vasquez's deal is up after this season, and he's a candidate for a serious raise, which could go so far as to make him overpaid and cut into his value. There are lots of "coulds" and "mights" surrounding Vasquez right now. We can't deal in anything other than hypotheticals until some of the summer's free agency and roster-building dust settles.
There aren't many teams where Vasquez would provide a clear-cut long-term upgrade at the point, though. Maybe he'll be traded, or maybe he'll stick around. Either way, here's hoping he remains in a spot -- whether it's off the bench in New Orleans or starting elsewhere -- where he can keep finding consistent minutes. That doesn't seem too unlikely, even behind Holliday and Gordon in the bayou.