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
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Cut loose: CJ McCollum

McCollum is an elite scorer and shooter. He has scored over 20 points per game for nine straight seasons and is a career 39.9 percent 3-point shooter. It is easy to see why the Pelicans gave up four players and three draft picks to acquire him at the 2022 trade deadline, but now is the time for New Orleans to move on.

McCollum provides leadership and a veteran presence, but his defensive shortcomings will continue to hold the Pels back. In his 11 years in the NBA, McCollum’s team has advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs just twice, despite playing with at least one star every year.

He is not untouchable in trade talks, but the Pelicans must find the right deal. McCollum has two years and $64 million left on his contract. They will have to use his salary with draft capital and young talent to acquire an upgrade. It won’t be easy, but the Pelicans need a superior two-way option as part of their core.

The New Orleans Pelicans must keep one of their two stars, and the choice is easy. There is plenty of risk, but fans saw how special this player can be in their play-in game against the Lakers before he suffered another injury.