Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Last year, the New Orleans Pelicans attempted to straddle a line between contending for the playoffs and building around Zion Williamson in a post-Anthony Davis future. Now, the franchise appears prepared to take a step backward.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Pelicans traded Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks for Eric Bledsoe and George Hill. According to Wojnarowski, New Orleans is also getting three first-round picks and multiple pick swaps.
Once the deal is finalized, here’s how the team’s lineup might look:
- PG: Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill
- SG: JJ Redick, Nickeil Alexander-Walker
- SF: Brandon Ingram*, Josh Hart
- PF: Zion Williamson
- C: Jaxson Hayes
*Restricted free agent
Given that the Pelicans already have Lonzo Ball, who’s due for restricted free agency in 2021, Bledsoe and Hill may not be long for New Orleans.
New Orleans isn’t rebuilding so much as it’s in asset-acquisition mode. It’s almost impossible to imagine the franchise using all the draft picks at its disposal because there are only so many roster spots.
David Griffin, New Orleans’ executive vice president of basketball operations, can instead wait another year or two to see what the roster looks like with a healthy Williamson for a full season. Once he gets a better picture, he can consider packaging his draft capital to acquire a proven star.
The Pelicans missed out on the playoffs in 2019-20, thanks in part to Williamson only playing 24 games. But it’s hard to look at the current roster and think their postseason chances will improve. Going from Holiday to the pair of Bledsoe and Hill is a net downgrade, and Derrick Favors is a free agent.
Griffin built a championship-winning roster around a generational talent when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Based on how many picks the Pelicans have over the next few years, he doesn’t have to rush that process with Williamson in the Big Easy.