Story by Wyatt Vaughn, senior at Holy Cross; photos by Nick Boulet
On a cold night in the Big Easy it was time for the Pelicans to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although to many of the Pelican fans, this game meant nothing, with some fans even going as far as to cheer against the hometown Pelicans, perhaps with the thought of a high draft pick on their mind. Just to add insult to injury, that loss didn’t happen, as the Pelicans ended up winning their 26th game of the year, with a 131-122 triumph over the Thunder. With all of the talk lately about the Pelicans and Anthony Davis, it seems like Valentine’s Day might be the perfect holiday to find a suitor to take the former #1 pick off their hands. And for Davis, a transition from the Big Easy to the Big Apple, might be the best move for the Pelicans.
To Trade or Not to Trade?
The season so far for the Pelicans has been a roller coaster of emotions, but of late, it has been a lot of long drops. After they started 4-0 the Pelicans have gone from contender to potential rebuild, starting with the trade of Anthony Davis. Davis has many suitors already; obviously as he is a top 5 player in the league and a generational talent. Some of those teams include the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks.
All the Reasons They’ve got to Lose
Although the Lakers have long been publicized as the team to beat in the AD sweepstakes, from the Pelicans POV, the New York Knicks might be the better option for these reasons. The Pelicans right now have the 8th worst record in the league and the 13th seed in the West. Hopes of the playoffs are out of the picture. And that means that the Pelicans need to do what is best for the franchise in the future, but maybe not this season in particular. You guessed it, that means they need to tank. Lose as many games as they can and get as high of a draft pick as they possibly can. If they can sneak into the top 5 and steal maybe Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, or Cam Reddish in the draft, great. But the other piece of the equation is AD, where he gets traded, and what they recieve for him.
The Final Verdict
In my eyes, a Lakers trade doesn’t make much sense. If the Pelicans are trying to begin a new chapter of the franchise, then retooling the team with the Lakers’ (at best) mediocre assets seems silly. The team needs to focus on the Knicks, because they, not the Celtics or Lakers, have the best collection of assets to offer. My ideal trade for the Pelicans would be Anthony Davis and Solomon Hill in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox, Deandre Jordan, and the Knicks 2019 and 2020 1st round picks. This is exactly what the Pelicans need to start rebuilding the team from the ground up. You get two promising young stars in Dennis Smith and Kevin Knox, a proven center in Deandre Jordan, and the most valuable asset in the entire league, the Zion Williamson pick. If the Pelicans can get that trade coupled with a top-5 pick of their own in the draft, and two 2020 1st round picks, the Pelicans could be contenders again as soon as 2022. And that is just about when Lebron James and the Golden State Warriors will be ending their reigns in the NBA, the perfect time to begin contending.
Although this season for the Pelicans has been hard, things will get better. No matter who they trade Davis to, they will be showered with assets. And if they do get Zion Williamson, watch out NBA. After a good home win for the Pelicans tonight, it shows that they have some nice pieces to build around already. The Pelicans will return to action on February 22 after the All-Star break to take on the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Fieldhouse Arena in Indiana.