The New Orleans Pelicans have reached the playoffs just eight times in their first 20 seasons as a franchise, and they have never advanced beyond the second round. The Pels are building an exciting young core around Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, and they are hoping that solves one of the franchise’s biggest issues thus far.
New Orleans has struggled to retain talent since becoming a franchise in 2002. From Chris Paul to Anthony Davis to Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have traded away their best players before they have reached their peak. It has kept the franchise from winning at the highest level, and they are hoping their new core can change that.
Here is a look at ten players the Pelicans gave up on too soon in their first 20 years as a franchise.
Players New Orleans Pelicans gave up on way too soon: 10. Josh Hart
Hart bounced around a bit early in his NBA career. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz before a draft night trade sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers. The 6’5 wing was one of four players New Orleans acquired from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade, as they also got three first-round picks for their All-Star big man.
Hart played well with the Lakers, but he truly blossomed during his two-and-a-half seasons in New Orleans, where he averaged 10.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.0 steal in 29.3 minutes per game. Hart’s game took a step forward on both ends of the floor, but New Orleans won just 63 games in his two full seasons with the franchise.
At the 2022 trade deadline, the Pelicans sent Hart to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of the CJ McCollum trade. The 28-year-old has continued to improve after leaving New Orleans. His 3-point percentage keeps getting better, and the 6’5 wing made the playoffs for the first time with the Knicks in 2023.
Josh Hart fits on any contending team. The 6’5 wing can defend multiple positions, rebound well, and he is a league-average 3-point shooter for his career. The Pelicans would surely love to have Hart as an option on the wing as they chase postseason success with Ingram and Williamson.