Grade the trade: Hypothetical blockbuster lands Damian Lillard on Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans, Damian Lillard. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans, Damian Lillard. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Pelicans have been in the rumor mill plenty this summer. From the Zion Williamson rumblings to Jonas Valanciunas talks, there has been no shortage of smoke coming out of the Big Easy. With a talented roster and seven first-round picks available to trade, the Pelicans could get involved in a blockbuster too, and Damian Lillard is on the market after his trade request.

Chris Haynes mentioned the Pelicans as one of the teams in pursuit of the seven-time All-Star on his #thisleague UNCUT podcast on July 2. Lillard prefers to be traded to the Miami Heat, but the Blazers do not have to grant that request. They should be searching for the best available offer.

The Pelicans can put All-Star talent and multiple draft picks on the table in return for Dame, which gives them a clear path to make the trade. What would the final deal look like? Here is a hypothetical before diving into the deal from both sides.

New Orleans Pelicans land Damian Lillard in hypothetical blockbuster

The Blazers want to dump the $54.4 million owed to Jusuf Nurkic over the next three years in the Lillard deal, and the Pelicans are well positioned to take it on. Jonas Valanciunas is entering the final year of his contract, and the two sides could just swap centers.

New Orleans likely wants to move Brandon Ingram over Zion because Williamson gives them a legit chance to contend when healthy. Larry Nance Jr. and draft pick compensation must be added to make this deal work, so the final tally looks like this.

That is a massive price to pay for New Orleans, but they are getting one of the 15 best players in the league and arguably the best Blazer ever. New Orleans would reunite Dame and C.J. McCollum in their backcourt to pair with Zion Williams and the Pelicans’ young talent to form one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference when healthy.

How fair is this deal for both sides? Here is a closer look.