(Picture by John McCoy/Getty Photographs)
The New Orleans Pelicans’ commerce deadline was lackluster and perhaps even underwhelming to some extent, nevertheless it shouldn’t be alarming.
The Pels’ exercise on Thursday amounted to preserving Lonzo Ball a minimum of till the top of this season and buying and selling JJ Redick and Nicolò Melli to the Dallas Mavericks. Redick and Melli departed New Orleans in change for James Johnson, Wes Iwundu, and a second-round draft choose.
Redick is undoubtedly the centerpiece of this deal. He surrounds Luka Doncic with extra taking pictures, even when his taking pictures numbers have declined this season. Redick was a helpful presence within the locker room, however the Pels are unlikely to overlook him on the court docket.
His taking pictures numbers had fallen off this season. Redick shot 36 p.c from three for the Pelicans within the 31 video games he performed previous to a heel harm. Stan Van Gundy by no means discovered a approach to ease him into his model of play and his absence allowed for Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. to play the minutes they should develop.
Melli had seen a really, very relative uptick in play during the last week, however was largely terrible for New Orleans all season lengthy. The Italian huge got here to the large simple to theoretically stretch the ground and play good basketball; in follow, Melli made seven threes all season and was a turnstile on protection. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer season and Melli can be combating for an NBA future if he doesn’t resolve to return to Europe.
The Pels’ entrance workplace did job guaranteeing some return for Redick (and Melli), who in any other case would have walked on the finish of the season for nothing or been purchased out over the subsequent few days. It isn’t the flashiest of exchanges, however New Orleans received some respectable gadgets in return.
James Johnson is probably going an improve on Melli, even when his stats this yr don’t replicate that. Johnson is taking pictures 25 p.c from three, however his common over the earlier 5 seasons hovered round 33 p.c. Even when his capability to stretch the ground is intermittent, I think about him extra dependable than Melli and he will even add some much-needed toughness to a younger Pels squad.
Iwundu has the potential to be a sneaky nice acquisition, though the probability of that isn’t large. Nonetheless, Iwundu is a 6-foot-6 wing with a pterosaur-esque 7-foot-1 wingspan. He provides defensive instruments to the Pels that have been not possible for Redick and Melli. The important thing for Iwundu can be his shot—he’s 3-of-23 on three-pointers this season. Possibly Pels assistant coach Fred Vinson may assist him in that regard.
With these strikes, the Pels’ odds of creating the playoffs in all probability simply went sideways or, at most, barely up. But, I’m adamant that this isn’t discouraging if one takes a long-term view. I’m hoping that’s what New Orleans’ decision-makers thought of yesterday.
The Pelicans stay in an enviable place in comparison with most NBA groups. They’ve Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson locked down for the subsequent few years, are nonetheless answerable for Lonzo Ball’s future, have three fascinating younger gamers on their rookie offers, and have myriad interesting draft belongings.
Some may argue that the trio of Ingram, Williamson, and Ball is “dropping” this season, however they’ve been the group’s three finest gamers. They don’t seem to be the issue and shouldn’t be seen as that. The items round them want tweaking, however the core needs to be stored.
It might have been tempting for the New Orleans Pelicans to make a major transfer for a giant identify akin to Aaron Gordon and make the remainder of the season extra fascinating, however this quiet commerce deadline additionally didn’t put New Orleans’ vivid future in danger.