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2024 NBA Offseason Preview: What’s Next For The Pelicans?

The Pelicans have a crucial offseason ahead of them.

The Pelicans have a crucial offseason ahead of them. After five seasons of being led by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans may look to shake things up this summer. This will likely be more of a roster reset than a full rebuild. The Pelicans have several avenues to change up the roster while remaining competitive. Let’s dive into the Pelicans offseason and some exciting potential moves.

2024 NBA Offseason Preview: What’s Next For The Pelicans?

Season Recap 

The Pelicans had an encouraging season in which they returned to the playoffs. New Orleans finished as the eighth seed with a 49-33 record. However, they spent much of the season as the five seed. The Pelicans got off to a hot start early in the season, they went to the semi-finals of the inaugural In-Season tournament before ultimately losing to the Lakers.  Zion played 70 games after two injury-riddled seasons. He averaged a productive 22.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5 assists, on .570/.333/.702 shooting splits.

Unfortunately, Zion would go down with an untimely injury in their first game of the play-in tournament against the Lakers. The Pelicans beat the Kings to get into the playoffs but the injury would keep Zion sidelined for the series. Ultimately, the Pelicans were swept against the top-seeded Thunder. In a series where Brandon Ingram notably struggled averaging 14 points while shooting 34.5 percent from the field. Putting Ingram’s future with the franchise in serious doubt.  Despite Zion’s injury history, his talent is undeniable and all signs point to the Pelicans further committing to building around him

Projected Cap Space and Draft Picks 

Over the Cap

The Pelicans are in a projected 58 million dollar cap deficit. However, they are just outside of the first apron tax penalty. Notably, the Pelicans have never paid the luxury tax in their 20-plus-year franchise history. Many suggest the Pelicans may make further efforts to get under the luxury tax. This makes sense as it’s not worth over-investing in a roster that hasn’t seen any substantial success. In terms of spending power, the Pelicans will have a full mid-level exception of 12.9 million dollars. Giving them a path to upgrade their roster in a meaningful way. 

21st Overall Pick

Primary Targets 

The Pelicans roster is loaded with wings so upgrading their point guard and center play is logical. Collier and Carrington are big guards with playmaking abilities. Both guards also offer plenty of upside as freshmen. Missi would give the Pelicans an athletic rim-running big man. Filipowski’s floor spacing makes him an intriguing fit next to Zion.   

Pending Free Agents and Possible Departures

Free Agents 

It’s been reported that Valanciunas is going to leave in free agency. While Valanciunas is a solid interior scorer and rebounder it’s best for both sides to part ways. The Pelicans will look for a more mobile and defensive-minded center alongside Zion Williamson. Additionally, the Pelicans’ unwillingness to pay the luxury tax is another reason for Valanciunas likely being out the door. The Pelicans may look to resign Zeller and Hernangomez has big man depth. Bringing back Naji Marshall on a team-friendly makes sense for further wing depth. Alvarado’s 1.7 million dollar team option will likely be picked up.

Trade Pieces 

The Brandon Ingram-Pelicans era has likely come to an end. Ingram is a 2025 free agent and the Pelicans are unwilling to sign him to a max four-year $208 million dollar extension. Ingram’s scoring inconsistencies, injury history, and poor playoff performance this year are reasons the Pelicans might be unwilling to max him. Furthermore, the Pelicans roster is filled with wings but they need to balance their roster with more guards and bigs. Herb Jones,  Trey Murphy, and Dyson Daniels are all young wings with tons of upside, a larger role in the offense could allow these players to develop nicely. Moving Ingram before he hits free agency next summer is proactive for New Orleans. The Pelicans could use Ingram to target a star guard or big man.  General Manager David Griffin hinted at Ingram being dealt in the offseason.

McCollum’s two-year 66 million dollar contract makes him a trade candidate. The Pelicans could package these two players in return for a star and several high-quality role players. Alternatively, McCollum could be traded as part of a separate deal. Many are speculating McCollum could be moved to further get under the luxury tax. While an Ingram trade feels inventible a McCollum trade is an under-the-radar story to watch.

Realistic Offseason Targets 


The Pelicans should have a wide range of trade targets this off-season. However, they should primarily be looking for a star guard in exchange for Ingram. Allowing them to remain competitive and build a more balanced roster around Zion Williamson. Garland, Murray, and Young are all available in trade talks this off-season. Acquiring one of these guards in return for Ingram would make sense for all sides. Garland and Young are particularly intriguing due to their elite playmaking abilities next to Zion.

While Murray offers more defense and a skill set that would not interfere with the Pelicans’ existing core. All of these guards are worth pursuing and the reception of an Ingram trade could hinge on getting back a star. The Pistons have reported interest in Ingram it’s unclear if they are willing to give up Jaden Ivey however, this could be another exciting possibility.

The Pelicans have also expressed interest in Allen as an athletic two-way big man next to Zion.  The trouble is that the Cavs are reportedly reluctant to give up Allen making this an unlikely scenario. Karl-Anthony Towns is another player who has been linked to the Pelicans in exchange for Ingram. While Towns is an ideal fit next to Zion as a floor-spacing big his four-year $221 million dollar contract makes this trade option unrealistic. 

Ultimately, given the Pelicans’ salary preference, Murray feels like the most realistic target. Notably, his current contract is less than what Ingram has been making over the past four seasons. Murray is a perfect fit as a second option and lead guard. If the Pelicans aren’t able to pull off an Ingram-Murray swap they could settle for a more rebuilding package from the Pistons or Kings.

Free Agents 

This free agency class is fairly limited for centers and the Pelicans’ spending power of the mid-level expectation doesn’t make anything easier. However, Bitadze is a solid low-cost option. Bitadze showed solid flashes with Magic last season starting in 33 games averaging 5 points and 4.6 rebounds. Smith isn’t necessarily a traditional center but he offers high energy and solid rebounding. Dinwiddie and Jackson are two solid veteran guard options who would give the Pelicans a needed facilitator. 


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