NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – FEBRUARY 21: Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots against the … [+]
The New Orleans Pelicans have been one of the most active organizations in the trade market since executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin was hired. That was to be expected as Anthony Davis demanded a trade two years ago, which was followed by a respectable parting of ways with Jrue Holiday this past offseason. With only three weeks before the trade deadline the Pelicans could possibly trade away every guard the new front office did not draft, freeing playing time for Kira Lewis Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. There are too many teams calling about Eric Bledsoe, JJ Redick and Lonzo Ball.
New Orleans has only two players who are off the market: Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Most loyal fans want to add Josh Hart to the list, but he could be included in the right offer. The Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers need guard depth, and every contender in the Eastern Conference has called about JJ Redick. There are rumors the Golden State Warriors are interested in Lonzo Ball. While neither Los Angeles team can send draft picks to New Orleans, a third team could be brought into any potential deal.
A first-round pick in return for Eric Bledsoe may not be required if the right players are involved. The Lakers acquired Dennis Schroder this offseason but he is having his worst shooting season in five years and is on an expiring contract. The Lakers need talent they can retain or move, not lose for nothing. Schroder and his expiring contract to the Pelicans for Bledsoe gives both teams a fresh start both on the court and in the accounting offices. Schroder turned down a two-year, $33 million extension offer from the Lakers. Bledsoe enjoyed his time in Los Angeles and would not mind a return. New Orleans would get to see a different style of guard next to Williamson and can free up salary cap space if they do not resign Schroder.
JJ Redick is coveted by every playoff team in the NBA and has expressed his desires to play for a championship contender. Redick and Lonzo Ball even joke about the numerous trade rumors concerning both players. Redick could return to Philadelphia or Los Angeles, play at home in Brooklyn or wind up with Jrue Holiday in Milwaukee. The Miami Heat know that with the right boost and a little luck, they could make another unexpected run to the NBA Finals. Redick is a free agent after this season and will not be returning. Getting anything for him now is in the best interest of everyone involved.
Offers for Bledsoe and Redick will be pretty straightforward. The trade offers for Lonzo Ball will have the most variance while having more long-term consequences on the team’s chemistry and salary cap. Ball will be a restricted free agent after this season should the Pelicans keep him in town. Zion Williamson enjoys playing with Ball but the team has to think about a bigger picture. New Orleans will have to balance the trade packages against not only each other but also any offer sheets Ball might get this upcoming offseason.
If the Pelicans are wanting to keep Ball around but only for a certain price, these trade offers could tip the hand of a potential free agency bidding war. They will then know whether they will be outbid in free agency. However, those same teams may not want to trade much away when they could possibly sign Ball for free in just a few months. All of these factors ensure it will be active three weeks before the trade deadline for the New Orleans Pelicans.
I have covered Louisiana high school and college basketball in spurts for a decade. A basketball lifer from the bayou, I’ve reached the big leagues by writing about the