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Pelicans once again rumored to have interest in trading 2021 first round pick for veteran help

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire?

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Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

We’re on the doorstep of one of the most exciting times on the NBA schedule — the draft and free agency are right around the corner!

Before the frequency of new mock drafts and rumors increase, let us rehash where expert opinion sits regarding the 10th overall selection currently owned by the New Orleans Pelicans. While there’s plenty of solid sources to choose from for this exercise, I’m going to exclusively focus on Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and Jonathan Givony of ESPN — and right now they’re all on different pages.

O'Connor (6/25/21) Corey Kispert
Vecenie (6/22/21) Franz Wagner
Givony (6/29/21) Josh Giddey

Does this mean that one of Corey Kispert, Josh Giddey or Franz Wagner will soon join the Pelicans? Maybe. But realize that none of these draft gurus nailed down Kira Lewis Jr. at this stage of the offseason last year.

O'Connor (9/14/20) Jalen Smith
Vecenie (9/3/20) Saddiq Bey
Givony (8/18/20) Devin Vassell

Additionally, Zach Harper’s NBA Mock Draft 2.0 published yesterday reasons New Orleans may trade away their upcoming first round pick.

The Pelicans already have so many young guys, and people around the NBA are expecting them to move this pick for some veteran help, according to league sources. How significant of a player the 10th pick in this draft would bring back is where the confusion hits for a lot of people prognosticating this stuff. David Griffin is always active with these trades, though.

This is very much a realistic scenario — Givony opined the same thing last month.

On paper, the Pelicans need to continue to add shooting to maximize the playmaking and slashing ability of Zion Williamson. In reality, the last thing the team needs is another rookie, and the No. 10 pick is believed to be one of the most available of any in the lottery, simply due to the team’s expedited timeline.

We, at The Bird Writes, have echoed numerous times in articles and on social media and our podcast over the course of last season that adding further youth to this roster isn’t ideal because professional basketball players are required.

The Pelicans ended the last campaign with nine players who were 23 years of age or younger. None of them are finished products. If the goal is to win and get Zion Williamson into the playoffs, immediate veteran help is the preferable route. The best way to add that type of talent? Through trade.

The Pelicans, in all likelihood, will not be a cap space team. Luring the next JJ Redick in free agency isn’t going to be in the cards. New Orleans won’t be able to offer the biggest contract around as they’ll be limited to using exceptions when chasing free agents and the competition will be stiff. Remember, this franchise is not a destination ... yet.

Of course, if the Pelicans agree to package up their first round selection, a trade would probably have to accomplish a couple of goals: bring in a quality player and move an unwieldy contract (Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams).

Will such a deal present itself? It remains a guessing game at this point, but the smoke emanating from Airline Drive is growing thicker when it comes to the 10th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft.

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 @OlehKosel.