The Pelicans (5-10, 14th in the Western Conference) are not nearly as good as they hoped to be.
Which means the vultures are circling.
Especially around impending free agents Lonzo Ball and J.J. Redick.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
New Orleans has been receiving calls about the availability of Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick and has shown an openness to discussing trades around both with interested teams, sources tell The Athletic.
The Warriors and Pelicans discussed a potential deal involving Kelly Oubre Jr., sources said. There isn’t traction as of yet.
I wouldn’t read too much into New Orleans’ willingness to discuss Ball and Redick trades. Front offices should explore ways to improve their teams. Pelicans lead executive David Griffin is especially active.
But it could make sense for New Orleans to trade Ball and Redick. They could walk in free agency this summer.
Ball’s future with the Pelicans has been in question for a while. He’ll be a restricted free agent, but his qualifying offer will be huge ($14,359,936). Does New Orleans want to pay him a higher salary than that? If Ball accepts the qualifying offer, he could veto any trade next season, further limiting the Pelicans’ ability to get return for him after this year’s trade deadline.
Ball has struggled this season. Not as much as his traditional numbers suggest. But his production has regressed. That both lowers New Orleans’ desire to keep him – and his trade value.
Likewise, Redick is having a down year, shooting just 30% on 3-pointers. Maybe that’s due to a small sample (80 attempts) on a relatively streaky skill, even for good shooters. Or maybe Redick is declining at age 36.
The Pelicans have young guards, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis, who could get bigger roles if New Orleans deprioritizes a playoff push.
Perhaps, Ball and Redick would contribute more on a better team. Golden State could use either guard. Ball’s passing and defense would shine in Steve Kerr’s system, which would also deemphasize Ball’s shortcomings as a scorer. The Warriors could also use more outside shooting, which Redick can at least theoretically still provide. Kelly Oubre’s salary ($14,375,000) lands near both Redick’s ($13,013,700) and Ball’s ($11,003,782).
The key conditions of a trade could line up – Ball and Redick being more valuable too another team than to the Pelicans. But that’s still theoretical. New Orleans won’t quickly pivot out of the playoff race. And, of course, there’s the always-thorny matter of finding a team that actually likes Ball and Redick enough to satisfy the Pelicans.