The New Orleans Pelicans are sitting atop the Western Conference and boast one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, so they won’t be desperate to make a trade as the deadline approaches.
But contending teams looking to make deep playoff runs can never have too many good players, so while the Pelicans may not be involved in any blockbusters, they could make small moves to add more quality depth.
They don’t have a glaring weakness, but a 3-point shooter for the bench or someone who can block shots would probably be their biggest needs if if you had to name them.
I don’t think the Pelicans want to do anything that would disrupt their current chemistry, but there is a player who is likely available who could theoretically fill both needs.
According to Bleacher Report, the Orlando Magic are open to moving center Mo Bamba, who might be a fit on the New Orleans Pelicans:
"“Bamba (who can’t be dealt until mid-January) is on a two-year $20.6 million contract, but the second season is non-guaranteed. Orlando would like a first but may be looking for younger players who can grow with its young team longer term.”"
The New Orleans Pelicans have young players and draft picks that they could deal for Bamba, but would he be worth it?
New Orleans Pelicans: Mo Bamba is a fit
Having another athletic rim runner who can block shots and run the floor would be a luxury for the Pelicans, but one that would be useful in certain matchups.
Bamba has averaged 1.4 blocks per game over his career and is a disruptive rim protector who would give Willie Green a ton of lineup possibilities.
But Bamba isn’t just a shot blocker, as he surprisingly shoots nearly 39 percent from 3-point range after shooting 38 percent last season on four attempts per game. Bigs who can shoot and block shots are the perfect complement to Zion Williamson and Bamba has shown he can do both.
Before his minutes were cut this season, Bamba averaged 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks last season for Orlando in just 25 minutes per game. There likely isn’t a role that big for him in New Orleans, but he’s a guy who can make an impact when he’s in there.
The question is what the Magic would want in return in terms of draft assets or players. Jaxson Hayes would almost certainly have to be involved, but the Magic may have no interest in another big man to develop, though Hayes’ salary coupled with Garrett Temple’s would get the job done.
The Pels could toss in a second-round pick, but I seems unlikely that they’d give up a first rounder for Bamba. It’s hard to imagine any team giving up a first for Bamba unless it is heavily protected, so a young player may be the best Orlando can hope for.
It’s not a blockbuster trade by any means, but if the Pels can add talent without breaking up their chemistry, it’s something they should consider.