New Orleans Pelicans: The Dallas Mavericks are the trade partners the Pels need

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the New Orleans Pelicans are in dire need of reinforcements. The Dallas Mavericks could be the perfect trade partner for the Pelicans ahead of the second half of the season in order to make a playoff push.

Although the Mavs are in a better position than the Pels—they are currently eighth in the west after having improved in recent weeks—they still need something to get them over the hump. Ditto for the Pels, save the part about the recent improvement.

One trade possibility could see New Orleans acquire Josh Richardson and Maxi Kleber in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and Josh Hart plus maybe some draft-related sweeteners.

New Orleans Pelicans: Why would the Pels want Josh Richardson?

Few pieces are long-term fixtures for the Pelicans right now. The Pels have a chance to be a contender in the future simply because they have Brandon Ingram and especially Zion Williamson, meaning that they need to maintain as much roster flexibility as possible while maximizing their two stars.

The current iteration of New Orleans’ roster does not manage to do that. The spacing is problematic, mostly because of the guards rather than the centers as initially expected, and the frontcourt lacks serious depth.

Head coach Stan Van Gundy has his two guards, Lonzo Ball and Bledsoe, essentially playing as 3-and-D types. Williamson and Ingram are the ones tasked with most of the playmaking. Ball eventually adjusted well to this role, but Bledsoe has struggled all season long. The former Kentucky guard is yet to show consistent glimpses of the player that was mentioned in all-star conversations while playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Because of Bledsoe’s tough fit, bad play, and hefty contract, the Pels should be looking to capitalize on a trade for him while he still has some cache around the league. A like-for-like swap would not be ideal, but moving for someone like Josh Richardson could be.

He is a secondary or tertiary ballhandler who is best playing off the ball. Although Richardson is not the same archetype of player as Bledsoe, he would be an upgrade taking Bledsoe’s current role into account. It’s easy to imagine the Pels’ playmakers facilitating for Richardson as he cuts and slices through defenses.

That’s without mentioning Richardson’s defense. The former Miami Heat wing can defend the point of attack, as well as frustrate guards and wings alike. Bledsoe is a former first team all-defense player, but he has looked apathetic on that end of the floor for New Orleans. Incorporating Richardson would likely boost the Pels’ defense, which ranks among the worst in the league.