The New Orleans Pelicans are kind of in a gray area heading into the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline. The team had aspirations for the playoffs after falling short of the play-in tournament last season. New Orleans came close to reaching the playoffs in 2019-20 and that was with Zion Williamson not playing most of the season. Heading into 2020-21, the Pels believed the core of Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, coupled with the addition of veteran coach Stan Van Gundy, would help lead the team back to the postseason. That hasn’t exactly been the case and the are in danger of missing the playoffs at 18-24 entering play Tuesday.
There has been a lot of rumors surrounding PG Lonzo Ball lately. The Pelicans could effectively move Ball and still remain competitive, though it’s more likely the team misses the playoffs again. If Ball is moved, the Pels have some young guards who can step up, plus Eric Bledsoe and Josh Hart are still around. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. would get more run at PG. Ball could bring back another promising asset and/or another first-round pick.
There have been plenty of teams eyeing Ball, including the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers among others. According to reports, Ball is seeking a deal that would pay him around $20 million per season. With Ingram under contract and Williamson likely to get a hefty payday, the Pelicans need to think long-term. This is why Ball could be moved to free up the space to sign Williamson and remain flexible down the road. If I were NOLA, you aren’t going anywhere this season even if you do make it to the play-in tournament. Sell and move onto 2021-22.