The New Orleans Pelicans have to start putting together some wins on the court, or pressure is going to start mounting off of it. David Griffin already went through one ordeal with an NBA superstar in Anthony Davis; he cannot afford to do the same with Zion Williamson.
There were already rumblings earlier this offseason that Williamson has people in his family that do not want him in New Orleans any longer. He only has two years of NBA experience, so he will be with the Pelicans a little longer, but that was as clear a warning as any. Either they start upgrading the team or he is going to ask to leave.
If that tactic was intended to get the front office to make some significant changes this offseason, they missed the memo.
New Orleans saw Lonzo Ball sign an offer sheet with the Chicago Bulls and end up there via sign-and-trade. They didn’t get a first-round pick in the deal but surrendered a first-rounder to acquire Devonte’ Graham from the Charlotte Hornets.
At best, that was a lateral move. Trading Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams will save them some money, but they failed to do much when it comes to adding talent with their newfound cap space.
New Orleans has two young stars to build upon in Williamson and Brandon Ingram. They could use some more 3-point shooting and defense. New Orleans could get both of those things in the form of Fred VanVleet.
The Toronto Raptors guard would solve a lot of issues for the Pelicans. What would it take to get him? Let’s take a look at this hypothetical deal.
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: G Fred VanVleet
Toronto Raptors Receive: C Jonas Valanciuas, G Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G Kira Lewis Jr., 2023 First Round Pick (via LAL).
The hypothetical deal between the New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors would have to wait a few weeks to be made. Valanciunas cannot be traded until October 6th because of the recently traded player restriction.
Valanciunas was acquired by the Pelicans from the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this offseason in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams. A 2022 first-round pick via the Los Angeles Lakers was also sent to Memphis, and the teams swapped first and second-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Valanciunas will be heading north of the border in this trade, along with Kira Lewis Jr. Lewis was the No. 13th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Alabama. But, to trade away Fred VanVleet, the Raptors would assuredly be looking for more in return.
VanVleet is only 27-years old and on a relatively team-friendly deal when compared to what other point guards around the league are making. The Raptors would need to be genuinely enticed in order to part with him in a potential trade.
Should this be a trade Toronto did at some point, they would be shoring up the middle with Valanciunas, and he would be returning to the organization that he spent the first 6.5 seasons of his career with.