New Orleans Pelicans: Everything you need to know ahead of the trade deadline

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Pelicans, NBA Trade Deadline
Pelicans, NBA Trade Deadline (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The NBA trade deadline is in exactly one week and it’ll be an intriguing next seven days for the New Orleans Pelicans.

New Orleans could be one of the more active teams headed into March 25 for a number of reasons. First, there are contractual matters. A number of Pels are entering free agency this upcoming summer.

Then, there are also the veterans who could feel their championship window closing and want to pursue different opportunities outside of the Smoothie King Center. There are two big names in that category for me.

Lastly, the Pelicans are still chasing the playoffs. New Orleans is currently eleventh in the western conference but can make the play-in tournament as long as they climb up at least one place. Maybe Stan Van Gundy is in need of some tweaks reinforcements.

This is everything you need to know before next week:

New Orleans Pelicans: Restricted free agents

The two most important pieces that the Pelicans need to figure out are Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Both of them have had parallel NBA careers so far, but could potentially go their separate ways for the first time in the league this summer.

Ball and Hart are both restricted free agents after failing to come to terms with New Orleans last summer. What this means is that the Pelicans ultimately control their future, but it is dependent on how much they’re willing to pay. If another team comes in with a big offer for Ball or Hart that the Pelicans aren’t prepared to meet, then they will most likely leave the Smoothie King Center for a fresh start elsewhere.

Ball or Hart could still be traded by March 25 so that the Pelicans can cash in on their current high value and not have to go through the restricted free agency in the summer. I’ve previously written about how Hart could be an appealing option in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks, while Ball could probably be a good fit for the Chicago Bulls or even New York Knicks.

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Besides those two, Nicolò Melli is also a restricted free agent this summer. Pelicans fans are understandably probably not as invested in Melli’s future.

The Italian big has really struggled to shoot and defend this season. He wouldn’t be able to demand much money from the Pels, but I think New Orleans would be better off exploring other frontcourt options. If Melli gets traded, then it will probably just be to match salaries.

Lastly, two-way players Naji Marshall and Will Magnay are also restricted free agents this summer. They played for the Erie BayHawks in the shortened G League season, but haven’t seen many minutes with Stan Van Gundy. Still, I don’t expect either of them to move by March 25 and they’ll probably be kept around by the Pels organization going into next season, as well.