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2021 NBA Draft: Good possibility for another trade or two by Pelicans today

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Happy Draft Day, everybody!

Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

As of this writing, the New Orleans Pelicans are slated to pick at the 17th, 35th, 43rd, 51st and 53rd slots, but it’s unlikely that it’ll play out as such.

For instance, there have been murmurs since the deal for Jonas Valanciunas was first announced that New Orleans may move down again within the first round. Per ESPN’s latest mock draft:

Several NBA teams say the Pelicans are exploring trading down or out from this slot, looking for veteran contributors who can help them make a playoff run next season.

Lo and behold, there was a report yesterday involving the 17th pick in a potential trade for the Nets’ Landry Shamet. This rumor makes a lot of sense.

The Pelicans are in win-now mode to get Zion Williamson into the playoffs. And if Kyle Lowry gets successfully lured to New Orleans, the team would be hard pressed to fill out the rest of the roster with players that can be relied upon for positive contributions now because the 15-year veteran point guard is going to command the vast majority of available space.

Even if the Pelicans wind up going in a different direction than Lowry, the approximate space on the books, whether the Pelicans act as a cap space team or continue to operate over the cap, would in all likelihood get swallowed up by just several other players in free agency or through trade, so finding a couple of cheap but productive contracts remains an important mission, too.

As Shamit pointed out on Twitter, Shamet could fit into the Pelicans’ traded player exception (TPE) that was created by the Nicolo Melli trade to the Mavericks at the last deadline. This TPE is worth $3,897,436 and it is set to expire on 2/11/22. Shamet will make $3,768,342 next season. Hey, like a glove!

As for the four second-round picks, it’s hard to envision the Pelicans utilizing them all. Following the Valanciunas trade, New Orleans appears to have eight guaranteed contracts, one unguaranteed deal (Wenyen Gabriel) and a team option on Didi Louzada. Eight of the ten players will be 24 years of age or younger. While filling the several two-way slots is completely understandable, putting more than one second-round rookie from this draft on next season’s 15-man roster is not.

If you may recall, the Pelicans had two firsts and two seconds in the 2020 Draft. They only retained their 13th pick (Kira Lewis Jr.) and sent the other three away in separate trades.

History may come close to repeating itself today.

UPDATE: The Pelicans have moved the 53rd pick to the 76ers for cash considerations.

UPDATE #2: And Landry Shamet just flew off the board!

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.