5 Pelicans who definitely won't be back, 2 who shouldn't return next season

These Pelicans could be wearing a different uniform to start the 2024-25 season.
New Orleans Pelicans, Brandon Ingram
New Orleans Pelicans, Brandon Ingram / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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Won’t be back: Jonas Valanciunas

JV could be gone as enters unrestricted free agency. They could not work out an extension and did not trade him before the deadline, despite rumors dating back to the 2023 offseason. Is Valanciunas their center of the future or do they try to upgrade at the five this summer?

The 6’11 big man played in all 82 games this season but averaged his fewest minutes and rebounds per game since 2019. Head coach Willie Green was not shy about benching JV when the matchups dictated. He made just 30.8 percent of his 3-point attempts this season and has struggles protecting the rim. Valanciunas is an impactful player, but a tough fit next to Zion Williamson, who also lacks floor spacing and shot-blocking.

The Pelicans reportedly wanted to trade JV for a center upgrade. They plan on having someone playing the five next to Zion in the frontcourt. If they let Valanciunas walk, Larry Nance Jr. is the only big man under contract for next season. He has played over 27 minutes per game for a full season just once in his nine-year NBA career. The front office has work to do.

The New Orleans Pelicans must figure out the fit part of their roster. Are they building around Zion or Brandon Ingram or both? What pieces fit and where do they need to upgrade? Moving on from Jonas Valanciunas only makes sense if the Pels add a better-fitting center to their roster.