Pelicans full 2024 offseason guide: draft picks, trade targets, rumors, & more

Apr 14, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dribbles
Apr 14, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dribbles / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

This an extremely expansive and thorough postseason guide that I'll be updating throughout the summer. Bookmark as you please!

The Pelicans season didn't end the way they wanted. Following one of the most successful regular seasons in franchise history, the Pels bowed out of the playoffs with a whimper. A 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder sends New Orleans into an offseason where questions abound.

Questions the Pelicans had to answer this season

1. Is Zion Williamson 'the guy?'
2. Are CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram the best long-term partners around Zion?
3. Which wing players are going to develop into future contributors?

To me, all three preseason questions were all answered with exclamation points. Zion Williamson is absolutlely the guy. He played a career-high number of games, he expanded his offensive arsenal to become an elite playmaker on top of a true bucket-getter, and he was able to carry a top ten offense on his shoulders. Everything New Orleans does going forward should revolve around Zion.

On the other hand, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram are not the guys to surround Zion with. In Williamson's absence, McCollum and Ingram have faltered. Neither of the Pelicans stars made an impact in the playoff series against Oklahoma City, and both should be on the trade block this offseason in an effort to bolster the talent around Zion.

Finally, Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones are the future. Those two wings project to be elite role players in the NBA and are perfect fits for the modern game. No matter what happens, Murphy III and Jones deserve starting spots next season. The pressure to add stars around the core of Williamson, Murphy, and Jones squarely sits on the shoulders of David Griffin and Willie Green. The Pelicans core is in place. It's time to move on from Ingram and McCollum and build a true contender.

Pelicans 2023-24 season record, stat leaders, strengths, weaknesses


NBA Rank





Place (NBA)

Offensive Rating



Defensive Rating



Points Per Game



Points Per Game Allowed



Points Per Game Leaders


Zion Williamson


Brandon Ingram


CJ McCollum


Rebounds Per Game Leaders


Jonas Valanciunas


Zion Williamson


Brandon Ingram


Assists Per Game Leaders


Brandon Ingram


Zion Williamson


CJ McCollum


Steals Per Game Leaders


Dyson Daniels


Herb Jones


Zion Williamson


Jose Alvarado


Blocks Per Game Leaders


Jonas Valanciunas


Herb Jones


Zion Williamson


Biggest statistical strengths

- Three-point percentage - 38.3%, 4th in the NBA
- Steals per game - 8.3, 3rd in the NBA
- Defensive rebound percentage - 72.5% 8th in the NBA
- Deflections per game - 15.4 6th in the NBA

Biggest statistical weaknesses

- Free throw percentage - 77.1%, 21st in the NBA
- Blocks per game - 4.6, 21st in the NBA

My biggest takeaway from looking back at the Pelicans statistical output is how hard it was to find objective strengths and weaknesses. For a team that won 49 games, good for 8th in the league, New Orleans is shockingly average across all statistics. The land between 10-20 on almost every single major statistic that correlates to winning or losing basketball games.

The Pelicans are firmly in the "good" tier of NBA teams, but they need a facelift in order to ascend to the elite tier of the Association. That truth was on full display in the Play-In Tournament and the team's short playoff run. Good enough to make the playoffs and put a scare into the one seed, not great enough to make a deep playoff run.

Pelicans key offseason dates

May 12 (Time TBA, likely between 7-8 p.m. ET): NBA Draft Lottery
The NBA decides the order of picks for the 14 teams in the lottery.

The Pelicans are currently slotted at spot No.21 in the draft (from Milwaukee), but the lottery decides who picks ahead of them. The lottery will decide picks 1-14. New Orleans' draft needs may overlap with the teams ahead of them, so the draft lottery could decide which potential draftees may fall to New Orleans' 18th selection.

The NBA has a full draft lottery explainer here.

May 12-19: NBA Draft Combine
In a draft class as wide-open as we've seen in years, this multi-day showcase could separate some standout names from the rest. Stay tuned to which players make an impact in the combine and raise their draft stock.

Day after NBA Finals (TBD):
Teams can begin negotiating with own free agents.

June 26 (8 p.m. ET): NBA Draft 2024, 1st round
The Pelicans will make their first-round draft selection, number 21 overall. New Orleans could also pick at number 17 overall if they decide to take the Lakers pick this season instead of deferring it to 2025.

June 27 (8 p.m. ET): NBA Draft 2024, 2nd round
This is the first year the NBA will air round two on a separate night. New Orleans doesn't have a second round selection, but they are liable to trade into the second round to select a player they see a future in.

June 29
• Last day a team/player option can be exercised. Jose Alvarado and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are the two Pelicans with team options.
• Last day teams can extend qualifying offers. Dereon Seaborn hits restricted free agency on this date.

June 30 (6 p.m. ET)
Free agent negotiations can begin with players not on their team.

July (dates TBD): NBA Summer Leagues:
The first time we'll get to see Pelicans' draftees suit up in the blue, red, and gold. Last season, Dyson Daniels and Jordan Hawkins led the Pelicans summer league outfit, but outside of those two, no summer league players made an impact on the senior club.

July 1 (12:01 a.m. ET): Free agency moratorium
• First-round picks can be signed.
• Minimum contracts (2 years or less) can be signed.
• Teams can extend offer sheets, and restricted free agents can sign offer sheets.
• Third-year and fourth-year rookie options can be exercised.
• Two-way contracts can be signed and converted.

July 6 (noon ET): Free agency begins
Teams can officially sign free agents, trades can be made official, offer sheet time period begins.

Late August (exact date TBD): NBA announces full preseason schedule
In 2022, the schedule was announced on Aug. 25. In 2023, it was announced on Aug. 30.

September 30 (estimated date): NBA Media Day

October 1: NBA training camps begin

October 21: Last day of the offseason
• Rosters set for opening day at 5 p.m. ET.
• Last day free agents can be signed-and-traded.
• Last day to convert an Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way.

Early October (dates TBA): NBA Preseason games begin
In 2022, the first preseason game was on Oct. 2. In 2023, the first preseason game was on Oct. 5 in Abu Dhabi. This season, the Nuggets and Celtics will be playing on Oct 4. and Oct. 6, which will likely tip off the preseason.

October 22: Regular season begins

The Pelicans Roster: Free agents, definite returnees, question marks

Pelicans free agents

Unrestricted free agents: These are players that are on the open market and free to sign a contract with any team in the NBA.

Jonas Valanciunas, Cody Zeller, Naji Marshall

Restricted free agents: These are players whose contract have expired, but the team they played for has the right to keep them by matching any offer sheet the player signs with another team.

Dereon Seaborn

Team options: These are players that have a clause in their contract allowing the team to keep them on a pre-agreed salary for one more season.

Jose Alvarado ($1.7 million), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl ($1.4 million)

Pelicans who will definitely return in 2024-25

Jose Alvarado, Jordan Hawkins, Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, Zion Williamson

In lieu of David Griffin's revealing post-season comments, calling anybody a "definite" to return to New Orleans feels risky. However, the five listed above feel like safe bets. Jose Alvarado is on a team friendly contract for 2024-25 (if New Orleans decides to exercise their team option), and his value as a backup point guard exceeds his small payday. Jordan Hawkins is entering his second season after being picked in the lottery, and his movement shooting skills are a nice fit around Zion. Herb Jones and Trey Murphy III have proven themselves as valuable contributors at valuable positions on the floor and I'd be shocked if they're moved in any potential deal this summer. Lastly, it seems as if the entire plane will be built around Zion Williamson going forward, and seeing him in anything other than a Pelicans uniform in October would be a massive upset.

Pelicans with uncertain futures

Dyson Daniels, Brandon Ingram, E.J. Liddell CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., Matt Ryan

More ink will be spilled on this as the NBA approaches it's offseason in full, but each of these players is 50/50 at best to return to New Orleans next season. The younger players (Dyson Daniels, E.J. Liddell) could be used as filler with updside in trades, Larry Nance Jr. could be used to match contracts, and rumors are already flying about Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum's fututes elsewhere. Pelicans basketball is in for a facelift and these players may be casualties in the operation.

2024 NBA Draft prospects mentioned as potential Pelicans

The Ringer:

Devin Carter, Guard, Providence

Bleacher Report:

Terrance Shannon Jr., Guard, Illinois

Tidjane Salaun, Forward, Cholet (France)

Sports Illustrated:

Devin Carter, Guard, Providence

DaRon Holmes, Forward, Dayton


KyShawn George, Forward, Miami

Kel'el Ware, Center, Indiana

Pelicans free agent and trade targets

Free Agents:

As it stands, New Orleans doesn't have much money to play with this offseason. It is likely that some bigger money contracts will be moved in trades (CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., etc.), but for now, the Pelicans free agency options will be coming from the bargain bin. Here are a few potential Pelicans.

Tyus Jones, 27-years-old, Washington Wizards
Cameron Payne, 29-years-old, Philadelphia 76ers
Dennis Smith Jr., 26-years-old, Brooklyn Nets

Kelly Oubre Jr., 28-years-old, Philadelphia 76ers
Reggie Bullock, 33-years-old, Houston Rockets
Taurean Prince, 30-years-old, Los Angeles Lakers

Jonas Valanciunas, 32-years-old, New Orleans Pelicans
Nic Claxton, 25-years-old, Brooklyn Nets
Isaiah Hartenstenin, 26-years-old, New York Knicks,

The most expensive options are all potential centers with Valanciunas hitting free agency. If New Orleans retains their starting big man, it will come with a hefty price tag. If the Pelicans don't see him as a long-term fit with Zion, they'll need to spend big elsewhere to fill the gaping hole in the middle of their offense.

Trade targets:

This is where it gets fun. The Pelicans have significant draft capital, young(ish) talents on big contracts to match superstar deals, and a high-level decision maker willing to wheel and deal this offseason. Below are a couple of players that the Pelicans could make a big swing for if they decide to become big game hunters this summer.

Trae Young or Dejounte Murray, guard, Atlanta Hawks

Much like New Orleans, something needs to change in Atlants. The Hawks took a big swing in trading for Dejounte Murray to pair with Young in their backcourt. Early returns aren't promising. One of them needs to be moved for Atlanta to recoup some assets to build around the one that stays. Brandon Ingram would slot in nicely on the wing in Atlanta and he could be an option for the Hawks.

Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell, guard, Cleveland Cavaliers

Much like the Hawks, the Cavaliers may believe their backcourt needs a shake-up. Much like the Hawks, the Cavaliers are desperate for wing scoring, and Brandon Ingram would slot nicely next to whichever guard they keep around long-term.

Anthony Davis, forward, Los Angeles Lakers

A reunion! If LeBron James moves on, Los Angeles may look to blow things up and enter a full rebuild. The potential of a Zion Williamson/Anthony Davis front court is tantalizing and those two with a solid lead guard would cause trouble in the Western Conference.