Grade the Trade: Pelicans land All-Star center in 3-team proposal

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The New Orleans Pelicans have Jonas Valanciunas on the trade block as they search for a center upgrade. They have an exciting young roster, but the Pelicans want to add a defensive anchor at the five. No deal has materialized yet, but there are several big men on the block.

Center is a devalued position in the modern NBA. Teams either want an elite option or are comfortable going small or churning through multiple players. Valanciunas is an elite rebounder that can space the floor, but his lack of rim protection can be costly, especially when playing next to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

The Pelicans want to jump into contention, and they are eager to improve their roster. With Zion, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and Trey Murphy locked in as their top four, the place to upgrade is at the five, but who could they target?

Can the New Orleans Pelicans trade for a center upgrade?

Valanciunas is a strong starting center that can create matchup problems. He has flaws, but most players do.

If New Orleans is going to upgrade, they must be willing to part with some draft capital or young talent. Trey Murphy may join Zion and BI as untouchable, but Herbert Jones, Dyson Daniels, and first-round picks must be on the table if they expect to complete a deal. The Pelicans must also be flexible. JV is on an expiring contract, so they have to be willing to take back long-term money and cannot afford to wait for the perfect fit.

There will be centers available before the trade deadline, but can New Orleans land a former All-Star?

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