All signs for the 2019 NBA Draft are pointing to two distinct realities:
- Pelicans executive VP of basketball ops David Griffin is shopping the #4 Pick acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in Saturday’s blockbuster Anthony Davis trade.
- Vanderbilt Point Guard Darius Garland is widely considered the 4th best prospect for a variety of team’s and could be targeted with that pick.
Given these two variables it’s important for Pelican fans to be aware of the realistic opportunities on the table for the team and the needs they currently have to fill.
When it comes to the potential of Darus Garland as the #4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft the traits of interested teams is fairly obvious at first glance; young teams with a hole at lead guard. This includes the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves. Potential outliers like the Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers may or may not be inclined to get in on the action given their roster makeup and/or injured stars.
Griffin will likely be targeting an established player(s) under contract with the potential to become an all-star or who features an idyllic fit for the new Pelicans roster. Our own Chris Conner highlighted the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon as his preferred target for a potential deal, but there should be a bevy of options at Griffin’s disposal.
Young Vets...Yes, Seriously
I know we’ve been down this well traveled road before, but the idea of adding young complementary veterans to a top draft pick is more appealing now than ever. The Bulls, Suns and Timberwolves all feature an interesting mix of talent that could be plugged into the Pelicans roster and excel.
First I return to my dream of acquiring a Pacers superfluous big man, but this time with sights set on Myles Turner. With Victor Oladipo still on the shelf with injury and a roster full of free agents, the Pacers may be inclined to take a slow approach to this season while adding some more youth and offensive punch. The below trade accomplishes this for Indiana.
Adding Myles Turner and Jrue’s younger brother Aaron Holiday while moving back to the 18th pick in the draft allows New Orleans to flesh out the roster and give Zion Williamson an excellent long term front court partner, who has excelled being a defensive anchor next to undersized power forwards. Grabbing Aaron helps appease Jrue while also giving the team a potential long term solution at guard should Lonzo not find his shot.
If Indiana is displeased with this potential offer, then looking at Chicago should be the Pelicans next move. The notoriously stingy Jerry Reinsdorf could be interested in moving on from Otto Porter’s bloated contract and the Pelicans should be more than amenable to bringing him on board to solidify the small forward spot along with a much more attractive player to fit by Zion: Lauri Markkanen.
Markkanen is quite possibly the best long term fit next to Zion in the entire league given his shooting stroke and offensive versatility. However, this makes his value to Chicago just as high which necessitates dealing the 4th pick outright versus flipping it back for Chicago’s 7th pick as many have suggested. However the combination of the Porter salary dump, replacing him with Brandon Ingram as a potential lead scorer alongside LaVine, and the ability to draft Garland at 4 as your long term fit with Wendell Carter Jr. may make this a palatable package for the Bulls to cough up Lauri.
Should those Midwest Eastern Conference teams balk, looking a bit north to Minnesota might yield a less sexy but equally impactful deal in the short and long term for the Pelicans.
Adding the defensive swiss army knife of Robert Covington and the highlight shot blocking guard Josh Okogie to this wily defensive group might be a no brainer if all the Pels have to do is unload Hill’s deadweight contract and move back to the 11th pick. Minnesota will begin paying Andrew Wiggins’ monstrous extension this season and should try to keep giving him every opportunity to succeed. Adding an explosive scorer in the backcourt like Garland, Wiggins might be able to find the breathing room for his spin moves to gain more traction. Unless the Pels want to keep 4 and take Garland (or whomever they like), this should be the floor of a young vets style trade.
The Miami Heat would need to be interested in pushing the reset button on their franchise to be able to move up, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the assets to potentially do so.
This trade would likely be contingent on the Pelicans deciding to sit out free agency. But using Solo’s expiring, Ingram and 4 to nab the 13th pick, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo and taking on the last two years of Kelly Olynyk to space the floor for Zion is a fairly attractive use of resources. Their additions would likely solve most of the roster holes the Pelicans currently face while allowing New Orleans to still keep a pick in this draft to swing on a Romeo Langford or Jaxson Hayes type. Miami dumps long term cash and gets two young cornerstones in Garland and Ingram.
One final option lies in Phoenix, but the options and permutations involved to make any deal happen are innumerous. New Orleans should target three pieces from the Suns in their 6th pick, Mikal Bridges and 2018 1st overall pick DeAndre Ayton.
The deals needed to potentially acquire each or any combination of those pieces are very similar to the previously discussed packages and rely severely on Phoenix’s interests in either Garland, Ingram or Lonzo Ball. If there is significant traction from the Phoenix front office to acquire one or two of those pieces from New Orleans, then some combination will almost have to be included. One might argue against it given that is the principal haul for Anthony Davis, but if some variation of the above deal was on the table, I believe it would be something the Pelicans should seriously pursue:
The Washington Wizards have the Bradley Beal nuclear option should New Orleans elect to go that route, but that potential opportunity has been covered in much more ground thus far.
Let us know if any of these potential options get you excited, seem realistic or too far fetched for reality.