New Orleans Pelicans: With Oubre gone, is Lauri Markkanen target #1?

Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls works against Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls works against Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans watched another free agent slip away when Kelly Oubre Jr. signed with the Charlotte Hornets.

The Pels have had to sit back and watch free agent after free agent sign with other teams, some of them turning down bigger offers from New Orleans to do so. I thought Oubre would be a nice fit, and since he’s from New Orleans there might have been mutual interest, but he chose the Hornets.

This is not a good look for David Griffin, who has had a decent offseason so far but needs to get another player to put the final stamp on this roster.

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The New Orleans Pelicans still have a lot of glaring holes to fill, most notably shooting and defense, which haven’t really improved, as Devonte’ Graham offers similar shooting to Lonzo Ball and is probably a downgrade defensively.

Jonas Valanciunas should help on both ends and is an upgrade from Steven Adams, but he’s not going to help the Pelicans’ woeful 3-point shooting much, as he only shoots one a game.

There are still some players available and teams can start making offer sheets to restricted free agents today, so we could see the New Orleans Pelicans move on an RFA with their cap space.

New Orleans Pelicans: NBA free agent Lauri Markkanen is the Pels’ best option

One restricted free agent that I would love the Pels to make a move on is Lauri Markkanen, who is a restricted free agent for the Chicago Bulls.

After trading for Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, it appears as though Markkanen is going to be the odd man out, so the Bulls might not be willing to match an offer if it is much more than the qualifying one they’ve already extended Markkanen.

Markkanen has some flaws, as he is not great defensively and has some injury troubles, but he is also a 7-footer who shoots over 40 percent from 3-point range and would be almost unstoppable in the pick-and-roll with Zion Williamson.

The Pelicans can probably get him for somewhere between $12-15 million per season, which would still leave them some cap space and the MLE to make other moves like retaining Josh Hart.

Markkanen may not have been the Pelicans’ first option, but he is probably their best one unless Kawhi Leonard wants to shock the world and leave Los Angeles for New Orleans.

Today could be a busy day for the New Orleans Pelicans and they need to have some success.

Next. Why Devonte' Graham will be a better fit for NOLA than Lonzo Ball. dark