There is pressure in New Orleans to start winning — pressure that starts with the potential of Zion Williamson and the voices in his ear.
Whoever becomes the next head coach of the Pelicans will feel that pressure. Certainly GM/President David Griffin feels it, which is why the Pelicans are about to have their third head coach in three seasons. It’s also why trade rumors are flying around the Pelicans as the draft approaches.
One interesting one from Zach Harper of The Athletic: The Pelicans want to trade out of the No. 10 pick.
The Pelicans already have so many young guys, and people around the NBA are expecting them to move this pick for some veteran help, according to league sources. How significant of a player the 10th pick in this draft would bring back is where the confusion hits for a lot of people prognosticating this stuff. David Griffin is always active with these trades, though.
There also have been rumors the Pelicans have at least called Detroit to talk about a trade for the No. 1 pick, but that is more fantasy (or, if you prefer, due diligence) than reality.
This idea of trading out of the No. 10 slot makes some sense. The Pelicans have Zion, Brandon Ingram, and probably will re-sign Lonzo Ball this summer, with all three of those young stars playing key roles. Then there are the up-and-coming young players such as Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. They could use some veteran presence — but they need to be smarter about the veterans they bring in. For example, New Orleans is vastly overpaying Steven Adams to clog the lane on Zion’s drives. New Orleans needs to do better. J.J. Redick also would remind us to say the Pelicans also need to be up front and honest with their veterans.
Time for the caveats: This is the smokescreen time of the year, three weeks out from the NBA Draft, when everyone is still trying to hide their true intentions while figuring out what everyone else wants to do. Take every rumor with a grain of salt. Or 12 grains. Also, as Harper noted, it’s one thing to say you want to trade the No. 10 pick for a reliable veteran presence and another to find a team willing to give up a quality vet for that pick. The Pelicans need a dance partner, a team that sees value in who is left on the board at 10, and that team may not exist.
Still, it is something to watch as the draft gets closer.