Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
BREAKING: Memphis is finalizing a trade to send Jonas Valanciunas and 2021 Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, 2021 picks Nos. 10 and 40 and a protected 2022 first-round pick via the Lakers, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 26, 2021
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:
The 2022 first-round pick New Orleans is sending Memphis is top-10 protected, per source.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) July 26, 2021
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.