The New Orleans Pelicans could add depth in trade with Hornets

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives to the basket while guarded by Nick Richards #4 and P.J. Washington #25 of the Charlotte Hornets . (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives to the basket while guarded by Nick Richards #4 and P.J. Washington #25 of the Charlotte Hornets . (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have started the season 9-7 which is good for 9th in the crowded Western Conference standings.

There are just two games separating the 1st and 9th seeds right now, and it could be like this all season, as the West is loaded, competitive and balanced.

The difference might be which team makes the right roster moves to supplement their talent, and the New Orleans Pelicans definitely have the ammo to make a splash.

New Orleans doesn’t need another star, but adding more quality bench depth could separate them from the pack a little and give them an advantage in the West.

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The Charlotte Hornets are reportedly shopping one of their players and he would be a nice fit with the New Orleans Pelicans.

PJ Washington is having a career year, he is on an expiring contract and the Hornets stink, so it is not surprising that his name would get mentioned in trade rumors.

I mentioned Washington as a possibility to upgrade the Pelicans’ shot blocking, and he would improve their overall perimeter defense and give them another guy who can rebound and score off the bench. Washington is averaging 15.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in increased minutes this season and would give the Pels another long defender who can cover several positions.

Washington is a fit and would give the New Orleans Pelicans one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, but what would it take to get him?

New Orleans Pelicans: Trade with the Charlotte Hornets

Trading for PJ Washington is tricky, as the Pelicans really only have a couple of salaries that match up and the Hornets may have no interest.

I’m sure the Pels would love to unload Devonte’ Graham or Garrett Temple, but either guy would likely require additional sweeteners to get the job done. Graham’s contract runs beyond this season and he stinks, so New Orleans would likely have to attach a first-round pick to move him.

I’m not sure they’d be willing to do that for a rental, and the Hornets would have to add another player to make the salaries work since Washington is making just $5.8 million.

That’s why this move seems like the only one that would really work:

In this trade, the Pelicans get their bench depth for the cost of Jaxson Hayes, who is also on an expiring deal.

This would give the Hornets the chance to try out a high-ceiling player in a season when they aren’t going anywhere anyway. If he works out, they’d have the inside track to re-sign him and if he doesn’t, they aren’t on the hook for more years.

They’d also pick up two second-round picks, as it’s hard to see the Pelicans giving up Hayes and a first-rounder just for Washington. He’s a good role player, but he’s on an expiring deal and his shooting splits are down, so it’s not like he’s going to draw many better offers than that.

Hayes has barely played this season and doesn’t seem to be part fo the Pels’ future after they failed to sign him to an extension, so moving him for someone who could help this year makes sense.

Adding Washington would give the New Orleans Pelicans a bench of Larry Nance Jr., Jose Alvarado, Dyson Daniels, Naji Marshall and PJ Washington, a diverse and long group that would be great defensively and give the Pelicans a ton of lineup options. He’d also be insurance against any further injuries to Brandon Ingram or Zion Williamson.

Kira Lewis Jr. is another guy who could be on the table, but seems less likely just because of the injury concern.

The New Orleans Pelicans have a move to make this season, as they have the expiring contracts, young talent and picks to add depth. And they should, as the window is open now and they have a chance to do something special.

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