New Orleans Pelicans shopping Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have a starter in trade talks, and it isn’t Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram. No, no, this time, it is none other than Jonas Valanciunas.

On Tuesday, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported that the Pelicans were looking to move Valanciunas in order to acquire a better rim-protecting big man. Here is what he wrote:

"“San Antonio was known to be waiting with a short-term contract for Reid and the hope of pairing him with Victor Wembanyama in the frontcourt, sources said. Now the Spurs will have to turn to other targets, perhaps someone like Pelicans center Jonas Valančiūnas, as New Orleans and San Antonio recently did business on offloading Devonte’ Graham’s contract, and the Pelicans, sources said, have since made Valančiūnas available in search of more mobile, rim-protecting big men. New Orleans made one call, sources said, to Cleveland about obtaining Jarrett Allen. Another team that wanted to be in the mix for Reid was Allen’s Cavaliers, sources said. Cleveland would have needed a sign-and-trade avenue to acquire the talented big man. It remains to be seen if the Cavs will continue searching for other frontcourt reserve options behind Allen and Evan Mobley, or if the front office simply valued Reid that highly.”"

As the quote above suggests, several teams are scrambling after news that Naz Reid would be re-signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pelicans appear to be trying to capitalize on the situation by moving Valanciunas to a team that was pursuing Reid in exchange for some much-needed rim-protection.

In a recent post, we identified three statistics for analyzing a player’s rim protection abilities. And being that the Pelicans finished dead last in 2022-23 in opponent rim accuracy (per Cleaning the Glass), this is an area of the game they desperately need to fortify. Unfortunately, despite being incredibly reliable (appearing in 79 of 82 games), Valanciunas didn’t do much to help in this category.

This news is also interesting as Valanciunas recently expressed a desire to extend his contract and stay with the Pelicans long-term. However, if Fischer’s recent reporting is any indication, this likely won’t be happening.

Valanciunas is heading into the second year of a two-year, 30.1 million dollar contract. After 2023-24, he is set to be an unrestricted free agent (per Spotrac).

Next. 10 Players the Pelicans gave up on way too soon. dark