New Orleans Pelicans: 3 Hustle Players to Target in free agency, trades

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New Orleans Pelicans, Khem Birch

Khem Birch #24 of the Orlando Magic drives between Kenrich Williams #34 and Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)

New Orleans Pelicans: A Trade for Khem Birch

Khem Birch

Khem Birch is exactly the type of strong, high energy defender that the Pelicans need.

We suggested the Pelicans might try to bolster their defense by trading Nicolo Melli and Birch was one of the players we identified as a possibility.

Trading Melli seems like the ideal way for the Pelicans to get better without disrupting their core, as he is a luxury they simply can’t afford at this point. Melli doesn’t defend and the Pelicans have enough 3-point shooting without him.

Birch is a strong, switchable 6-foot-9 power forward who can also defend centers. He doesn’t put up huge blocked shot numbers but he can put a body on low post players or step out and contest.

He’d be a much more versatile defender than Derrick Favors and comes at a modest cost, as he could be traded for Melli straight up. He only has one year left on his deal so the Pelicans wouldn’t be committing big money or years.

Birch would be a downgrade offensively, but the Pelicans had the 4th ranked scoring offense in the league and the 20th ranked defense, so they need some balance.

Birch isn’t a flashy guy, but he could be traded for without giving up much and would help fill multiple spots for the Pelicans.

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