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New Orleans Pelicans trade center Alexis Ajinca to Los Angeles Clippers for veteran wing defender Wesley Johnson

Serviceable help at the forward position plus he makes for a more interesting trade chip.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to trade Alexis Ajinca, a 7’2 center, to the Los Angeles Clippers in return for Wesley Johnson, a 6’7 small forward who averaged 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 74 games last season.

However, before the deal can be finalized, this transaction must be completed with the league office in time for the Clippers to waive Ajinca before the 5 p.m. Eastern deadline — the real reason Los Angeles agreed to deal in the first place.

The Clippers sit close to the luxury tax line and possess more than 15 guaranteed contracts so they have interest in reducing salary and personnel from their roster.

Johnson has spent eight seasons in the league with four different organizations, beginning with the Minnesota Timberwolves who selected him 4th overall in the 2010 Draft. Although his career didn’t pan out as initially envisioned, he has appeared in meaningful minutes under Doc Rivers during the last three seasons.

The 31-year-old veteran is better known for his physical attributes than basketball skills as evidenced by well below average shooting percentages and a career line of 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks over his career per 36 minutes.

According to ESPN’s Real Plus Minus, Johnson rated as the 12th most effectively small forward defensively for the 20176-18 season, finishing ahead of names like P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza and OG Anunoby. In comparison, Solomon Hill ranked 34th and Darius Miller, 74th, at the same position.

One thing to remember going forward, Johnson may be utilized in another trade before the deadline by the Pelicans front office.

This could be important if Dell Demps still has eyes for Kent Bazemore, Otto Porter Jr. or some other more renowned and higher salaried wing player.