3 Pelicans that earned untouchable status, 3 that should be cut loose

The Pelicans should be active in trade talks this offseason.
New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram
New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages
1 of 6

The New Orleans Pelicans must shake things up. They won 49 regular season games with their stars mostly healthy but were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Thunder. The Western Conference is loaded with talent, and none of those teams are going away.

The Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum trio helped New Orleans make two playoff appearances in the last three years, but they won just two games. Their fit is less than ideal, and there are availability questions. The Pels must decide who to build around and quickly head in that direction.

New Orleans has pieces and could be one or two moves away from becoming a serious threat. David Griffin has a plan (subscription required), but who stays in the Big Easy? These players figure to be at the center of their trade discussions.

Untouchable: Herb Jones

Jones has quickly gone from a second-round draft pick to one of the best defenders in the NBA. The 6’8 forward finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting and had a breakout third season. Jones averaged 11.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.4 steals in 30.5 minutes per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 41.8 percent on his 3-point attempts.

Every team is searching for 3-and-D wings with plus size and length. Jones can guard multiple positions, knock down open jumpers, and create havoc with his defense. The 26-year-old is still improving and his four-year $53.8 million contract is an absolute steal. Jones does not hit free agency until 2027 and figures to be a key piece of the Pelicans rotation for years to come.

If they trade Herb Jones, the Pels will need a replacement. They have him locked in on a less than market value contract. New Orleans should make him a building block, but others must go.