The New Orleans Pelicans, coming off a 48-win season and a clean sweep of the higher-seeded Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the playoffs just a season ago are now 15-20 and are 14th in the adamant Western Conference. They are on a five-game losing streak and do not have the easiest schedule coming up, as they play two division opponents on back-to-back nights.
First, they square off with the Dallas Mavericks on Friday and then the Houston Rockets, who have won 8 of their last nine games. Luckily, both of these games will be played in the Smoothie King Center, where the Pelicans are 11-6 this season.
Before the season started, most people believed the Pelicans would carry their momentum over and be in the mid-to-bottom seed playoff conversation for this season. However, so far, they look as though they will be getting a top-10 pick in the draft, having the 8th lowest record in the league.
The season is not close to over though. New Orleans has plenty of time to heat up and start winning games. Whether it’s due to the multiple injuries suffered by point guard Elfrid Payton that has kept him to only playing five games (The Pelicans are 5-0 when he is in the starting lineup) or questionable rotations, the Pelicans need some change to rejuvenate their season. One great way to do this quickly: Trades.
The Pelicans are in desperate need of a wing player that can stretch the floor and play some defense. Whether to add to the starting lineup or coming off the bench, a gritty 3 and D wing would work correctly for New Orleans. There are multiple players the Pelicans can target to help the wing position and boost their bench depth. At the end of each player’s summary, there is projected win/loss gain and the trade the Pelicans could execute to trade for the prospect. Let’s look into some potential trades and why the Pelicans should pull the trigger.
First up, Justin Holiday
Chicago Bulls starter Justin Holiday, brother of Pelicans star Jrue Holiday, would be a great addition to the wing and is a player that fits exactly what the Pels need. Justin, a 6 foot 6 shooting guard/small forward, is an efficient three-point scorer and can make great plays on defense. Justin is shooting 36% from behind the arc, a career high. He’s also averaging around 12 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Justin takes after his brother when it comes to being a great talent on the defensive side. Jrue made the All-Defensive 1st team last year for New Orleans, and Justin, while not quite as phenomenal as Jrue, locks down opponents. Justin is averaging 1.7 steals this season, making him top 15 in the league for this statistic. Justin could bring the energy off the bench and veteran leadership to the younger players.
Pelicans Trade: Darius Miller and 1-2 2nd round draft picks
Bulls Trade: Justin Holiday
Pelicans Projected Win/Loss: Win +2
Next is, Joe Ingles
Joe Ingles, a player that casual NBA fans may not recognize, is a fantastic three-point scorer. Ingles is perfectly sized to come in at small forward at 6 foot 8 and can shoot from anywhere on the floor. Ingles is averaging 12 points a game and shooting a very respectable 39% from the three-point line. In both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, Ingles shot a ridiculous 44% from the three-point range. New Orleans is the dead center of the league when it comes to three-point percentage, ranked 15th with a 35% three-point percentage. The only issue is the Utah Jazz do not seem to want to trade Ingles. If the Pelicans could send a good enough offer, however, they may get Ingles in a New Orleans uniform. Joe Ingles could bring some great shooting and scoring to a struggling Pelicans team and hopefully rub off some of his efficiency off to the other Pelicans players.
Pelicans Trade: Darius Miller, E’Twaun Moore, and a future draft pick
Jazz Trade: Joe Ingles and Tony Bradley
Pelicans Projected Win/Loss: Win +1
The favored option, Kent Bazemore
Kent Bazemore is a reliable scorer and a name that has been mentioned in trade talks for a while. Bazemore is a 6 foot 5 shooting guard averaging 14 points a game and four rebounds a game. Bazemore is known to be inconsistent, but his having the best year of his career when it comes to scoring. Fourteen points are career high, and his 44% field goal percentage is his best since 2013. Although he is having a down three-point year percentage-wise, this is due to him shooting the three ball more often than ever. If the Pelicans acquire Bazemore, he could be the stepping stone to a better season.
Pelicans Trade: E’twaun Moore, Wesley Johnson, and a future draft pick
Hawks trade: Kent Bazemore
Pelicans Projected Win/Loss: Win +3
Finally, Otto Porter Jr.
Probably the best of all the trade prospects, Otto Porter Jr. is the prototypical 3 and D wing that the Pelicans so desperately need. Porter is an efficient scorer, averaging in the double digits each of his last three seasons. Last year, Porter took his game to the next level and showed crowds he has excellent potential. He averaged a career-high 14.7 points while shooting 50% from the field and a hefty 44% from the three-point line. Porter also shot an efficient 82% from the free throw line. The main issue with acquiring Otto is his expensive contract. Porter Jr. is making a whopping $26 million a year, something hard to work around when paying attention to financial trade rules. He is also gaining trade value due to his rise in stats and may cost more than the Pelicans are willing to offer. The Wizards would need a return they deem valuable, probably a player like Nikola Mirotic. While Mirotic is a fantastic piece for the Pelicans, he is being outshined by new Pelicans signee Julius Randle. If the Pelicans could work out a trade to get Porter Jr., it may be a match made in heaven.
Pelicans Trade: Nikola Mirotic, Solomon Hill, and swap better of 2nd round draft picks
Wizards Trade: Otto Porter Jr. and swap worse of 2nd round draft picks
Pelicans Projected Win/Loss: Win +2
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