Pelicans 'unlikely' to trade veteran guard

Apr 16, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green talks with
Apr 16, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green talks with / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

CJ McCollum was brought to New Orleans to take the franchise to the next level. McCollum was billed as the final piece to slot in alongside Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson and create a big three in the Big Easy.

It's safe to say he hasn't delivered on that promise. McCollum had the chance to prove his long-term value as a core piece in the Pelicans' playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Williamson was out, Ingram was hobbled, and a large playmaking load fell onto the shoulders of 32-year-old veteran guard.

He was unable to come through.

The Pelicans offense was the worst of all 16 postseason teams. McCollum failed to make an impact on the offensive end while also being targeted on the defensive side of the ball. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander left McCollum in his wake possession after possession and he was clearly the target of the Thunder offensive strategy.

His rough playoff performance combined with David Griffin's promise to not be complacent this offsesaon have led Pelicans fans to put the dots together and convince themselves of McCollum's potential exit.

Not so fast my friend.

On a recent episode of the HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto and William Guillory discussed te future of the Pelicans guard. Both agreed that it is unlikely that McCollum will be in a different uniform come training camp.

"While he’s not untouchable, he’s viewed as the grown-up in the room for a young Pelicans squad, providing stability on the court and a good locker room presence for the team. I think that’s going to be a guy whose name you’ll hear come up in trade talks, but for those reasons I mentioned, I don’t know if they will move him."

Michael Scotto

The Pelicans truly are in need of a veteran presence on the roster. With Jonas Valanciunas hitting free agency and unlikely to return, Larry Nance and McCollum are the two oldest players left in New Orleans. Zion Williamson turned his career around this season and developed into more of a leader, but another veteran voice in the locker room is necessary for a young team like New Orleans.

McCollum has been a starter since his junior season in the NBA, but his future may be as a spark plug guard off the bench. If he's willing to swallow his pride, and the Pelicans are fine with bringing a $32 million man off the bench, he could bring serious value to New Orleans in 2024 and beyond. If the Pelicans see McCollum as a long-term starter, questions will arise about David Griffin and his plan for the Pelicans going forward.