Trade deadline week is officially upon us. This week marks many fans’ favorite week of the season. This year portends to be particularly fascinating, with multiple marquee players available for acquisition as teams begin to prep for the last leg of the tank for Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
With no moves made yet, the New Orleans Pelicans’ deadline plans appear to be a complete mystery, or do they? Not quite. Read into the tea leaves a bit, and one will see some signs of the team potentially gearing up for some sort of transaction this week.
The metaphorical tea leaves we are referring to come by way of their lineup decisions during their nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. Despite being the first half of a back-to-back, the team opted to play nine players (basically eight, considering Kira Lewis Jr. played only six minutes).
The most notable omissions from the rotation were Devonte’ Graham, Jaxson Hayes, and Willy Hernangomez. All players whose names have been mentioned as potential salary fillers in any blockbuster trade the Pelicans may participate in this week.
“They essentially played an eight-man rotation,” Clark noted. “Kira Lewis Jr. was in there for about six minutes. If you don’t count him, the Pelicans played eight guys in this game. Willy Hernangomez did not play. Devonte’ Graham did not play. Jaxson Hayes did not play.”
He continued, “I’m wondering if we are going to see [Graham] or [Hayes] in any non-garbage time minutes before Thursday.”
His co-host, Adam McCreary, recognized his hint and jokingly pressed him on the matter.
“What could that indicate? Could that indicate something to you,” McCreary probed.
Clark later concluded the episode by saying, “I would be surprised if the Pelicans did not make a move ahead of the trade deadline at this point.”
Now, it is worth noting that the following night all three of these players combined for 63 minutes and greatly contributed to the team’s win over the Sacramento Kings. So maybe the shortened rotation was merely Coach Willie Green riding his best players to end the team’s ten game losing streak, and this whole exercise is just mere speculation.
But still, his decision to sit those three was eye-catching, and it will be interesting to see if we see a similar phenomenon play out tomorrow when the team hosts the Atlanta Hawks.
Regardless, this week should be an interesting one for Pelicans’ fans.