Report: Pelicans trading Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, better picks to Grizzlies for Jonas Valanciunas, lesser picks

Pelicans center Steven Adams and Grizzlies
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The Pelicans want to win quickly around Zion Williamson.

Now, they’ll have the cap room to upgrade their roster (maybe by signing Kyle Lowry?).

New Orleans is trading Eric Bledsoe ($18,125,000 salary next season) and Steven Adams ($17,073,171) to the Grizzlies for Jonas Valanciunas ($14 million), Memphis upgrading draft picks as a result.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:

The Pelicans now project to have about $36 million in cap space.

That does not include cap holds for potential restricted free agents Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. If retaining matching rights on Hart, that’d drop to about $25 million in room. (Ball’s cap hold – $27,509,455 – will likely be higher than his salary. So, keeping him would effectively eat into the cap space.)

New Orleans also gains financial flexibility the following season. Adams is due $17,926,829 (from a misguided trade-and-extension last offseason), and Bledsoe has $3.9 million of his $19,375,000 salary guaranteed. By contrast, Valanciunas is on an expiring contract.

Plus, the Pelicans get Valanciunas, the best player in the deal.

But the draft-pick cost is substantial. The Grizzlies move up in the first round and second round and get a future Lakers pick. Though the pick is top-10 protected and Los Angeles will likely be good next season, this year showed the low end of the Lakers’ range.

This is excellent value for Memphis, which – barring other moves – will decline Justise Winslow‘s $13 million team option to facilitate this deal. Winslow wasn’t worth that money. Already a deep team, the Grizzlies would have struggled to lure a free agent who’d make a huge difference. Those draft-pick considerations are nice.

Downgrading from Valanciunas to Adams allows Memphis to elevate Jaren Jackson Jr. into a larger role, and Adams can still play. Maybe Bledsoe will fare better in a fresh environment, too.