With multiple players due to receive max contracts, the New Orleans Pelicans will have to make a trade if they want to keep their core intact.
They may have found the next Durant in young All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball is rounding into the league’s next great point guard and Josh Hart is already a valuable bench player in his young career.
The problem is that eventually all of these guys are going to get paid.
Ingram is set to get a max extension that could turn into a super-max if he makes the All-NBA team.
Ball will be due for an extension in 2021-22, as will Hart and it is not too early to start planning for Zion’s next contract, which could be the biggest in NBA history.
The New Orleans Pelicans are not a major market, so are unlikely to go too far into the luxury tax, even if their young team is winning.
The good news is that only Jrue Holiday, Zion, Hayes and Alexander-Walker are signed past the 2020-21 season, so the New Orleans Pelicans will have some cap space.
The problem is that with two potential max contract extensions on the horizon, the Pelicans may not be able to keep all of their young talent and still put together a deep, competitive team.
Some tough questions will have to be answered.
Do they let Derrick Favors walk?
What do they do with the contract of J.J. Redick?
Will they have any cap space to make a splash in free agency?
The truth is that if the New Orleans Pelicans want to retain all of their young core, they will have to make an offseason trade.
Here are three players that may have to be traded.