Grade the Trade: Pelicans land another star to pair with Zion in mock blockbuster

The Pelicans may have another blockbuster trade up their sleeve before the Feb. 8 deadline.

New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson
New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports
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Should the Pelicans make this trade?

When healthy, New Orleans would be one of the best offensive teams in the league. Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and C.J. McCollum are all proven 20-point-per-game scorers. Markkanen could act as a floor spacer and possession finisher. All four must sacrifice a bit to make it work, but it could be extremely dynamic.

The Pelicans are currently sixth in defensive rating. Herb Jones is a legit stopper, but two of New Orleans' three best defenders by defensive win shares are being moved in this deal. Dyson Daniels is a 6’8 point guard who creates matchup problems, and Jonas Valanciunas has played well this season. Those would be massive losses, especially when getting two average at-best defenders in return.

All of the makes no mention of Jordan Hawkins and his shooting. They would be losing three key pieces plus the draft capital.

If New Orleans believes they need another star to be true title contenders, there is merit to making this trade. Markkanen figures to be one of the best players available, but this is a massive risk for the Pelicans that could have disastrous results.

Grade: C+

New Orleans should be looking to make a blockbuster move that pushes them closer to the title picture. They are no lock to make the playoffs even with Markkanen. He is a star, but making the pieces fit won’t be easy. Getting a talent upgrade always has value, but this trade earns a C-plus because it does not guarantee the franchise reaches its goals.

The New Orleans Pelicans are a wildcard team before the 2024 trade deadline. They have the assets to make a blockbuster deal and the desire to take a step forward. Stay tuned to see what the franchise does.

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