The New Orleans Pelicans will have as much stability as any team in the NBA next season, as they already have 14 players under contract.
The Pels think they can compete just by adding Zion Williamson, and they might be right, as they were able to make the playoffs and put a scare into the 1st-seed Suns with Zion on the bench.
But they still have some obvious weaknesses, and also have three picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, so it is possible that they will make some trades this offseason to clear roster spots or try to shore up some weaknesses in the roster.
There are five players who I think could be on the block, though some are far less likely than others.
Here they are, from the least likely to be traded to the guy who is most likely to be shipped out by the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason.
New Orleans Pelicans: 5 players most likely to be traded
#5: Jonas Valanciunas
Valanciunas had the best season of his career for the Pelicans, averaging 17.8 points and 11.4 rebounds and was one of their most consistent guys.
Valanciunas was a double-double machine who gave the Pelicans an interior option that they lacked on offense. He’s a hard-nosed player and wants to win, so it’s unlikely that the Pels move him, especially since he is on a reasonable deal that pays him just $14.7 million, a value contact for a guy who produces like him.
However, he was tough to keep in the lineup at times defensively against the Suns, and there is some concern that teams are just going to small-ball the Pels to death in the playoffs when Jonas is in there because of his inability to switch on the perimeter.
I think this concern is a little overblown, but if the Pelicans decided to go with a more versatile, position-less team next season, and think Jaxson Hayes is ready to assume duties as a center (he’s absolutely not), then we could see Jonas moved.
I see this is a long shot, so it’s very likely Jonas is back next season.