According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the New Orleans Pelicans have been one of the busiest teams over the last several weeks on the trade market. They are decidedly interested in bolstering a roster that has underperformed, dealt with key injuries and remains keen on appeasing Anthony Davis at every turn.
But what about the buyers? League executives report the New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings lead the list of teams calling around looking for ways to upgrade their rosters in recent weeks.
The Pelicans, who put in an offer for Jimmy Butler, are feeling the pressure to convince Anthony Davis to sign an extension next summer. They own their first-round pick and general manager Dell Demps has routinely been willing to trade firsts for instant help in the past. That alone gives them a good chance to get an impact player for the second half if they’re so inclined.
As Windhorst mentions, the Pelicans front office has been active during Dell Demps’ tenure in sending out valuable future assets for immediate upgrades. Last season, they facilitated a deal for Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls. The year before, DeMarcus Cousins was acquired from the Sacramento Kings. And in previous years, first round picks were moved at various stages for Omer Asik, Jrue Holiday and Jerryd Bayless.
Many around the New Orleans organization cling to the idea they’re a force to be reckoned with when fully healthy, including Davis.
“We had everybody healthy the first four games, and we went 4-0,” said Davis after Monday’s loss to the Celtics. “Then Elfrid [Payton] goes down, I’ve been out a couple games, Niko [Mirotic] ... a lot of guys have been out.”
”Every time we’ve had a full roster, we’ve been a tough team to beat. But we still have to find a way to win. Injuries are part of the game, you can’t control them. That’s why we have 12 guys on the roster.”
While AD promises to do his part and figure out a way to help the existing roster flourish again, the front office is three days away from having a lot more options on the table. For instance, the Pelicans will be able to deal players they signed over the summer on December 15th (Ian Clark, Jahlil Okafor, Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Kenrich Williams) as well as trade for those in similar situations on other teams like Tyreke Evans, Rajon Rondo, Mario Hezonja, Trevor Ariza and Rudy Gay, just to name a few.
New Orleans could be eyeing either Darren Collison or Cory Joseph, who are ahead of Aaron Holiday on Indiana’s depth chart and the Pacers may wish to get something in return before either veteran leaves in the upcoming free agency period. Or perhaps the Pelicans front office is focused on a team already looking ahead to future seasons and the newly available trade options shore up a package that includes a return of either Jeremy Lin, Trey Burke or Kent Bazemore.
With New Orleans currently sitting outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, Alvin Gentry still a ways off from writing Payton’s name in the starting lineup, and Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore continuing to deal with lingering issues, Demps may be forced to act well ahead of the February 7th trade deadline. Although there have been only eight trades in the month of December since 2012, don’t be shocked if the Pelicans decide to break the typical mold.
Anthony Davis’ future likely hangs in the balance