The New Orleans Pelicans want to improve so they can persuade Anthony Davis to stay with the franchise long-term. With that said, future draft picks are reportedly off the table in possible trades.
Kevin O’Connor reported that the team might be interested in a deal for Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. He also believes the Pelicans should try to acquire Wizards point guard John Wall, who played college basketball at Kentucky just like Davis.
However, today O’Connor said that New Orleans is not willing to deal any of their picks beyond this season (via The Ringer):
“The Pelicans are not trading Anthony Davis this year. It’s just not happening. Like, it’s just not. But I think that conversation would start if this month goes fairly poorly for them … Their front office, from what I’ve heard, they’re unwilling to put future picks on the table. And I’ve heard that goes back about a year now … They’re willing to deal this year’s pick but not future picks. We saw that with the Jimmy Butler discussion … I think that shows to me that the front office and ownership at least has an awareness of a future without AD on it.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski linked the organization as one of the teams that made a final push for Butler before he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Wojnarowski said that New Orleans did not put Jrue Holiday on the table.
But he also reported that the Pelicans would not trade “multiple draft picks.”
O’Connor was more specific about that during a previous episode of The Ringer NBA Show. As transcribed by Jeff Smith, the Pelicans were only willing to offer a 2019 first-rounder and not the unprotected pick that the Minnesota Timberwolves desired in 2022.
It’s possible that New Orleans wanted to hold onto the pick because that season is likely to be a “double draft” that will include high schoolers as well.
But more likely, especially with the latest update from O’Connor, it’s that the team is signaling that they cannot give up future assets with the possibility that Davis leaves the team. Their draft picks this year will be less valuable than they’d be if the five-time All-Star doesn’t re-sign or gets traded.
Pelicans general manager Dell Demps has a history of trading first-round picks (or prospects he’d recently selected in the first round). Over the last 10 years, the Pelicans have traded every one of their first-round picks and first-round prospects, with just one exception: Anthony Davis.