The New Orleans Pelicans need to remake their roster and might look to do it with a splashy trade this offseason.
With rumblings that Kristaps Porzingis is unhappy in Dallas (and that he and Luka Doncic might not like each other), he is an obvious candidate to end up in a few trade rumors involving the Pelicans.
On paper, there is some fit, as Porzingis is the type of stretch-big that should thrive around Zion Williamson and make it easier for him to do his thing on the interior.
But there are plenty of other reasons to avoid Porzingis, and there might be a better option on his own team anyway.
New Orleans Pelicans: Kristaps Porzingis is too expensive and too fragile to target in a trade
While the idea of pairing the Unicorn with Zion has some appeal, there are good reasons to stay away.
The first is his contract, as Porzingis is owed $31, 33 and 36 million over the next three seasons, which would essentially prohibit the Pelicans from making many others moves as he, Ingram and eventually Zion would be eating up most of the cap space.
You’d have to be pretty sure Porzingis was the third guy before making that move, as it would probably cost the Pelicans Lonzo Ball and they’d be making Porzingis part of the Big 3 for the foreseeable future.
After playing just 48 games in the 2017-18 season, Porzingis missed the entire next season with an ACL injury and then only played 57 and 43 games in the following seasons.
He doesn’t have a great track record for staying healthy and has the kind of size and knee issues that portend doom on the injury front. The New Orleans Pelicans are a team that has already struggled in this area, so the last thing they need is a fragile star who misses a lot of games and is making over $30 million a season.
The New Orleans Pelicans should target Maxi Kleber instead
There might be a better fit on the Dallas Mavericks anyway in power forward Maxi Kleber. Kleber certainly is not as talented as Porzinigis but he comes at a fraction of the price and provides a fix to some of the Pelicans’ glaring holes.
He is a tough defender who can hold his own against bigger guys and has actually done a very good job guarding Zion Williamson in some of the two team’s matchups.
Kleber also shoots 41 percent from 3-point range and over 90 percent from the line, two things the Pelicans could desperately use, as they don’t have a big who can stretch the floor and their free-throw shooting is near the bottom of the league.
Kleber can give Zion some relief on the defensive end while opening up space on offense. He isn’t going to be a franchise-changing star but the Pelicans don’t need one of those, they need smart role players who can complement the stars they already have.
The question is what it would cost to get Kleber. The Pelicans don’t really have the contract to match up unless they wanted to move on from Jaxson Hayes, which they probably don’t. It might take some combination of players or perhaps a future draft pick to get it done.
The Pelicans should definitely stay away from Porzinigs, who is a tempting name but doesn’t really have what the Pelicans need.