David Griffin said to expect a calmer, quieter summer but all has not been quiet on the offseason front for the New Orleans Pelicans. Perhaps he was playing his cards close during the exit interviews but the Pelicans are one of the most talked-about teams at the NBA’s Draft Combine.
Jake Fischer reports, “there’s a likelihood that both Portland’s and New Orleans’ front offices could move those selections for an established veteran or trade down while adding another rotation piece along the way.”
The front office can expect to be fielding numerous trade calls in the coming weeks. The Pelicans have several moveable contracts to package with the 8th overall pick in the NBA Draft. They will have options but only one goal: Extracting maximum value out of the mid-lottery pick.
Swapping With Sacramento
Sacramento would be the most likely trade partner for swapping lottery picks. The Kings hold the 4th pick. Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, and Jabari Smith Jr. are the consensus top-three. New Orleans needs to be absolutely sure Jaden Ivey or Shaedon Sharpe are worth the investment.
Any trade with the Kings would be heavy on draft assets. Richaun Holmes or Justin Holiday might be interesting additions but those are fringe moves for teams chasing playoff goals. Regardless of whether the future picks were from the Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, or Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento would insist on keeping the picks lightly protected.
The Pelicans have been winning trades by standing firm on those kinds of margins. New Orleans split the protections on their pick this year and wound up having to send Charlotte two second-rounders that would not fit on the rosters instead. Moving up for a pick that might not get top-4 draft pick minutes is a balance that must be factored into the team’s chemistry equation.
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Standing Pat With The 8th Pick
This front office has scouted character well. The locker room chemistry is undeniable. A move up will put pressure on the rotation with only so many minutes to go around. Top 4 picks typically get to play most of the game in hopes of winning Rookie of the Year but the Pelicans have bigger team priorities.
University of Arizona guard Benedict Mathurin revealed he has been interviewed by New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Portland Trail Blazers. He also had the Pelicans on the list.
He might not make it to the Pelicans but Mathurin has the right approach. He said, “It’s about going to the right spot. It’s not going high or low.”
Standing pat with the 8th pick costs the team nothing. AJ Griffin, Keegan Murray, Jalen Duren, Dyson Daniels, TyTy Washinton, and Johnny Davis could all fit in the rotation next year.
Seeking More Vets And Assets
The Pelicans could bet on getting their perfect player later in the draft. New Orleans could seek out a serviceable role player and future draft assets. Both Daniels and Washington could be available a few spots later. Ochai Agbaji and Jaden Hardy have enough upside to bring in for a look.
Even if this year’s selection does not fit, most are young enough that they will still have enough potential value to recoup a pick. Moving back, or out of the draft altogether, would save the team millions on the cap sheet.
Getting the most value out of this year’s pick could mean money saved to spend later. As this team gets more expensive, that financial flexibility might be more valuable than taking a flyer on a prospect in this draft.