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New Orleans Pelicans expanding Jrue Holiday trade, expected to add Steven Adams

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A slow start to free agency finally comes through with a starting center

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are expanding their original trade agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks and Steven Adams is expected to be their new starting center on opening night.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported just before midnight that Adams is headed to New Orleans, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that while the deal is not yet finalized, a fourth team may also be included.

UPDATE: The Denver Nuggets are the fourth team.

It is likely that at least one of Eric Bledsoe and George Hill will not make it to New Orleans after the deal is finalized, as we have long anticipated.

In Adams the Pelicans get a superb defender and rebounder with a nearly impeccable record of health. He averaged 10.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game over 63 starts last year for the Thunder, while expanding his role offensively in the first season without Russell Westbrook.

To wit, Adams doubled his assist rate from 6.6% to 13.2% in the more egalitarian offense with Chris Paul at the controls in 2019-20.

A stout rim protector, he ranked 13th in rim protection among players with at least 300 shots defended.

Adams, 27, is owed $27.5 million this season and is an expiring contract. The move frees up the Pelicans to use their remaining exceptions, the MLE and BAE, to add depth on the wing around Brandon Ingram and behind Adams.

David Griffin managed to turn Jrue Holiday into future assets (the picks from Milwaukee) and solved the short-term issue at center with a bona fide starting-caliber center, not a hope or wish for some reserve from elsewhere to magically become a competent starter.

We will continue to update this as additional information comes in.

UPDATE: Details are emerging

New Orleans had already agreed to trade the draft rights of RJ Hampton at #24 on Wednesday to Denver. Now, the proceeds of that trade, the lottery-protected 2023 pick, will instead be routed to the Oklahoma City Thunder. George Hill is also headed to the Thunder along with the Charlotte Hornets 2023 second round pick (obtained on draft night for draft rights to Nick Richards, pick #42) and the Washington Wizards 2023 second round pick (obtained in the Wesley Johnson for Markieff Morris trade at the deadline in 2019).

The salaries still do not balance for the Pelicans. More details are pending.

For now, it appears the New Orleans front office has given Stan Van Gundy the tools needed to fix the defense, starting with the addition of a trustworthy anchor.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @Fish_TBW.