The New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies kicked off the start of the pre-draft madness by making a trade. The Pelicans received Jonas Valanciunas, the No. 17 pick, and the No. 51 pick. The Grizzlies received Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the No. 10 pick, the No. 4o pick, and a 2022 first-round pick from the Lakers (top-10 protected). All picks involved are for the draft on Thursday (except the Lakers’ pick). Here is a breakdown of the Pelicans-Grizzlies trade.
Pelicans-Grizzlies Trade Analysis
Pelicans Side of Trade
For the Pelicans, this trade makes a lot of sense. They are receiving the best player involved in the deal in Valanciunas, along with extra cap space. Valanciunas’ ability to spread the floor on offense will be huge for Zion Williamson, who will have more room to operate in the paint. His 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds last season will be a big upgrade over the 7.6 points and 8.9 rebounds that Adams provided. The Pelicans will now have $25 million in cap space which they can use to either re-sign Lonzo Ball (a restricted free agent) or go to after Kyle Lowry in free agency. The Pelicans also only drop seven spots with their first-round pick in the draft, so in theory, could still get a good player at that pick.
Grizzlies Side of Trade
The Grizzlies essentially traded cap space for draft picks with this trade. They get to move up from 17 to 10 and 51 to 40 in the draft on Thursday. They also get a late first-round pick from the Lakers next year. However, they now have to pay Eric Bledsoe $18 million this year and Steven Adams $17.5 million for two more years. Both Bledsoe and Adams were shells of themselves last year with the Pelicans, and it is already rumored that Bledsoe may be traded again. The Grizzlies figure Adams can replace some of the production Valanciunas created in terms of setting screens for Ja Morant and rebounding. Jaren Jackson Jr. should be able to have a more prominent role in the offense with 17 points up for grabs. The pressure is on for the Grizzlies to ace this draft.
Ultimately, both teams get what they want in this deal. The Pelicans get an upgrade at center in Valanciunas while also leaving them with cap space for this offseason. The Grizzlies get better draft picks for the draft on Thursday while also getting a future first in the process. Whomever the Grizzlies draft will determine whether or not they will win this trade. For the Pelicans though, this is one step in the right direction of making Zion happy. After missing the playoffs his first two years in the league, they should be in postseason contention this year.
Embed from Getty Images