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NBA Trade Deadline 2020: Ideal trade targets for New Orleans Pelicans including Myles Turner, Robert Covington and Nemanja Bjelica

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Or they could just choose to stand pat with the starting lineup playing so well!

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Minnesota Timberwolves Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline is fast approaching. David Griffin has warned that some may be confused by their approach to the trade deadline, leading many to believe the Pelicans may be buyers. With less than a week left, we asked our staff how they think Griffin, Trajan Langdon, and the New Orleans front office will approach the trade deadline. Then, in true blogging fashion, we asked how our staff would do it themselves if they were calling the shots.

What is your ideal trade for the Pelicans?

Charlie: The market this season is really tough. Too many teams in the West are vying for the same 8th seed to make most marginal deals, and too many teams in the East don’t have the right complement of roster pieces to make a major move this season. Even teams that could conceivably make a deal with New Orleans like Denver or Miami are sorting through various roster turnover and injuries so there isn’t a home run team to team trade.

As I’ve surveyed the landscape, one combination I continue to circle back toward is the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers. The Pacers have long had our eyes as Domantas Sabonis is a favorite of The Bird Writes crew, but he’s become near untouchable as he’s grown into the player many of us expected. This still leaves their unresolved front court with Myles Turner as the odd man out — which is good for New Orleans.

Turner would be an ideal long term fit next to Zion and Co and is also old enough to not interfere with Jaxson Hayes growth. However Indiana’s return would not come from New Orleans primarily but from Los Angeles.

The Clippers have had a complicated season adjusting to the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. And the most outspoken among those returning players has been Montrezl Harrell. Harrell also happens to be an unrestricted free agent heading into this summer and very likely will headline the market for actually available players. Of all potential free agents, which includes Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram among others, Harrell is 4th in scoring and 10th in rebounding.

Indiana should be over the moon to have a shot at adding Harrell to a core group of Oladipo, Brogdon and Sabonis in a relatively open East field. The Clippers, in turn, would receive both draft compensation from New Orleans, guard Frank Jackson and veteran center Derrick Favors. Favors has been great for the Pels this season no doubt, but his prime is now and that timeline fits ideally in LA. Giving the Clippers more draft assets for future deals as well and the bonus of combo guard Jackson should be in the range of enough to get all parties on board.

Kevin: With very limited tape and data, it seems that lineups with Zion surrounded by four perimeter players are destroying teams on the offensive end despite being a disaster defensively — though a disaster that can’t eclipse the absurd efficiency those lineups have on the offensive end. Knowing Gentry, he would love to be able to go small as much as possible, so we need to offset the spirals of that addiction with some tools that keep the offense potent while also Little Dutch Boy-ing the bursting dam on the other end.

With Zion at the 5, it’s key to have Lonzo, JJ/E’Twaun and Josh Hart on the court with him. Lonzo running the show in a fast lineup has been a thing of beauty, especially since he has finally begun to consistently attack the rim. Then you need a fear-inspiring shooter, and the Pelicans have two of the best shooters in the league on their bench. Gentry should roll with the hottest hand here. Josh Hart is a must. He’s a solid shooter and cutter. He’s a versatile defender and he rebounds like a 7’ footer. Jrue could get the fourth spot and does most of the time currently, but these lineups could be used to run everything through Zion while Ingram and Holiday get some rest.

My move is to get that other guard to allows Gentry to do this. I often joke that I want to see a lineup with 5 Josh Harts, and Hart should be the Jango Fett that this hole in the rotation is cloned from. I’ll admit Mikal Bridges isn’t an exact clone, but in spirit, effort and drive they are very close matches. The Suns are a weirdly constructed team with a lot of guys in the 6’-8” range. Bridges comes in at 6’-6” with a ridiculous 7’-1” wingspan. He’s a solid athlete, a good rebounder, a willing and diverse defender and has flashed scoring ability. The deal is Moore or Darius if they’ll take him instead with the fake Cleveland 1st and two 2nds for Bridges and Jevon Carter (purely salary purposes)

Preston: Nemanja Bjelica. Given his age (31.7) and the nature of their financial commitments, Sacramento is unlikely to bring him back this summer. Getting something of value for him before he goes would be optimal and it may even come to resemble the deal that brought Nikola Mirotic to Milwaukee in 2019.

Imagine if the Pelicans turned around and dealt all the picks for Mirotic to acquire a 6’10” sniper to take his place?!

Bjelica is the perfect bench partner for Zion. He ranks in the 100th percentile in eFG when playing the 5, 98th in mid-range and 98th in threes. At 43.8 percent, he’s the eighth-best three-point shooter in the NBA.

Oleh: For the first time in forever, score one for continuity; I would prefer to see the Pelicans stand pat regarding a major move before next summer. While some are ready to move Jrue Holiday for something of value, I hope that the front office gives this core group the rest of this season to play together before deciding to shake things up.

On paper — and now through five games, the starting lineup of Ball-Holiday-Ingram-Zion-Favors has been unstoppable. They have a +28.2 Net Rating and the offense hasn’t completely clicked yet. Plus, the Pels bench is loaded with several vets as well as promising young talent in need of development. With all the talent on this roster, a proper evaluation should be made before moving onto plan B.

Grubb: If I were making a trade for the Pelicans, I’d keep it very simple.

New Orleans Pelicans receive:

  • Jerami Grant
  • Torrey Craig

Denver Nuggets receive:

  • Jahlil Okafor
  • Kenrich Williams
  • E’Twaun Moore
  • 2020 Cleveland first round pick

Pels get longer and Grant has great versatility and is able to knock down the 3. He could make the second unit really deadly with Zion, JJ, NAW, and whomever at the other front court position.

Grant could exercise his player option in the offseason and become a free agent, but the Pels have time to convince him to stay.

Definitely a long shot, but the Pels aren’t making a move in all likelihood.

My other option is Indiana, but not for Myles Turner or one of the Holiday brothers.

New Orleans Pelicans receive:

  • Doug McDermott
  • JaKarr Sampson

Indiana Pacers receive:

  • E’Twaun Moore
  • Frank Jackson

I don’t see a long-term future for Frank in New Orleans based on the makeup of the roster. With this deal, get back a taller, better shooter in McDermott, whose contract is reasonable and expires next season, and Sampson, who again provides length and can be jettisoned the day the season ends.

Fish: I would chase Robert Covington. As I discussed on our podcast, if you believe the Pelicans will move Jrue Holiday this summer for a package heavy on young players and draft capital you can sacrifice it now to make the playoffs.

Minnesota will want a first round pick (Pelicans should protect it 1-4 at minimum) for Covington, which New Orleans can easily do. Below is one idea. If Minnesota wanted more New Orleans could include either the 2020 or 2021 Washington seconds, or the 2020 Cleveland fake first that converts to ‘21 and ‘22 seconds if the Cavs first is within the top 10 this year.

New Orleans Pelicans receive:

  • Robert Covington
  • Noah Vonleh

Minnesota Timberwolves receive:

  • E’Twaun Moore
  • Darius Miller
  • Frank Jackson
  • Pelicans 2020 First and Second Round picks

Covington is someone that saves Gentry from himself by giving the Pelicans more size off the bench. He slides in relatively seamlessly to an eight man rotation of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Derrick Favors, JJ Redick, and Josh Hart. Toss Covington in that mix and you have a legitimate playoff team rotation. Covington is cost controlled for the next two seasons as well.