New Orleans Pelicans: Shot blockers on tanking teams
The Hornets are tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference and look to be going nowhere. They will likely be active at the trade deadline as they try to tank for Victor Wembanyama unless they turn things around soon.
Washington will be a name on the market, as he is having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 15.4 points and 1.2 blocks per game. He’s undersized to play the five, but is a good shot blocker who would give the Pels a boost of defense off the bench.
The cost for Washington would probably be moderate considering he’s on an expiring deal, so he’s another name the Pelicans could target.
Nerlens Noel has barely played for the terrible Pistons, as he was getting back into game shape after an injury.
They appear to be holding him back, possibly for the purposes of trading him, as teams are well familiar with the veteran’s work on the defensive end. Noel has blocked 1.5 shots per game for his career and has been the anchor to some great defenses in the past.
He’s played little over the last two seasons, but averaged 2.2 blocks per game in his last full season for a very good Knicks’ defense. Noel is a veteran and would take on a lesser role off the bench, play 18-20 minutes per night and give the Pels some shot blocking.
His contract pays him $9.2 million this season and then next season is a team option, so there would be no long-term commitment. The Pistons are still rebuilding and would likely take a flyer on Jaxson Hayes in exchange. I’m sure Detroit would love a first-rounder, but that’s not going to happen given Noel’s recent injury history. But if the Pelicans have no intention of keeping (or playing) Hayes, then they may as well trade him for someone who could help them this season and beyond if they wanted to keep him.
The New Orleans Pelicans don’t need any more superstars, but they could use an athletic shot blocker and could make a move for one at some point in the season.