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Pelicans potentially exploring avenues to move up in 2021 NBA Draft

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New Orleans is one of the teams rumored to have interest in acquiring Detroit’s first overall pick

USC vs Gonzaga Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony yesterday, the New Orleans Pelicans have explored the cost of acquiring the first overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft.

Teams including Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans and Oklahoma City are among those making overtures to evaluate what it would take to move up to the No. 1 slot, sources say, but those talks are at an early stage, and any trade is unlikely to be consummated until much closer to the draft, if at all.

Before getting overly excited, Givony did go on to write that he doesn’t expect for the Pistons to trade their first overall pick and thus pass on drafting the presumed best player from this class, Cade Cunningham.

The reason for the swirling rumors is likely due to Troy Weaver, Detroit’s general manager, simply doing his due diligence, making “sure he leaves no stone unturned with what might end up being the most valuable pick he ever has in his career.”

Adding to the skepticism, The Athletic’s John Hollinger echoed a similar sentiment upon the conclusion of the draft combine last month.

Regardless, the Pistons will pick somebody. The chances of Detroit trading down seem minimal, and my spies were equally skeptical of Houston (at No. 2) and Cleveland (at No. 3) looking to move back in return for multiple picks.

Anyways, the biggest takeaway from these rumors for our purposes isn’t that a chance exists the Pistons trade the top pick but rather the Pelicans are leaving breadcrumbs of wanting to move up in a draft once again.

Last November, if you can recall, the Pelicans showed an interest in acquiring the Hawks’ sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. That obviously didn’t come to fruition, but the target at that time of several teams was believed to be Patrick Williams, eventually selected fourth overall by the Chicago Bulls.

I think this latest news pertaining to the 2021 Draft might be echoing that New Orleans has circled a name or two which isn’t expected to be sitting on the board by the time their own selection is ready to be made at the 10th pick.

Who could that be? Cunningham? Sure, maybe. Who wouldn’t want to add a gifted 6’8 playmaker and shotmaker who should also be above average defensively in his prime to their roster? But considering that there’s three other franchise-changing talents in this draft, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn one of Jalen Green, Evan Mobley or Jalen Suggs is the apple of New Orleans eye.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Suggs, the freshman guard out of Gonzaga. His fit in New Orleans would be ideal. The starting backcourt of Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe disappointed, and while Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis sit in the wings, Suggs has the highest ceiling of all those names, offering real star potential. (I’ll go into much greater detail in a later article.)

Hey, we’re three weeks away from the NBA Draft. The Pelicans have a roster with several holes, a kitty full of future assets and a real desire to improve the team around Zion Williamson. They should continue exploring every possible avenue to build a better team and there could be a real opportunity to do just that on July 29.

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.