After a strong start to the season, the New Orleans Pelicans (29-28) have recently seemed to fall apart, However, they are still a team to beat in the West. With Brandon Ingram back in action, they immediately secured three straight wins before falling short over the Cavs.
They had an opportunity to improve their lineup at the recent NBA trade deadline. Although they didn’t make any major trades, they did manage to pick up Josh Richardson from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Devonte’ Graham and four second-round draft picks, which is far from a terrible deal.
Richardson is a reliable two-way wing player who can easily fit into the Pelicans’ rotation, allowing them to strengthen their team and hopefully stand a better chance of success in this current season.
Do the Pelicans Make Enough Moves?
It was a missed opportunity for the New Orleans Pelicans at the 2023 trade deadline, as they opted to trade for Josh Richardson over making a more dramatic move. While Richardson is a quality player and his addition is useful as the team competes in an increasingly competitive Western Conference, it does seem like an opportunity was squandered by not bringing someone like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving into the fold.
Other West rivals managed to get marginally better around them, effectively widening the gap between those teams and the Pelicans. Aside from Uncle Drew’s move to the Mavericks (31-27) and KD heading to the Suns (31-27), the Clippers now have Eric Gordon and Mason Plumlee (31-28). In addition, the Nuggets (39-18) add more depth with Thomas Bryant from the Lakers (26-31) while the surging Kings (32-24) also have some improvement in their bench with the addition of Kesser Edwards.
While the Lakers are still far from being contenders, their latest moves may give them just enough improvement to at least be in a play-in spot. They acquired D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt in exchange for Rus and other Assets. They also acquired a big man – Mo Mamba.
Acquiring Richardson is unlikely to be remembered fondly if New Orleans fails to make a deep run in the playoffs this season. Ultimately, their decision not to make splashier moves may be seen as their biggest mistake of the 2023 trade period.
In fact, as per oddsmakers from BetMGM Louisiana Sportsbook, the Lakers (+2800)now have a better chance of winning the chip over the Pels (+3000).
Missed Opportunity for the Pels
This season alone, OG Anunoby is averaging 16.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2 assists per game on 45.7% field goal percentage and he is only 25 years old – making him an incredibly attractive asset for teams in need of a high-caliber player like Anunoby. Despite his strong performance this season though, the Raptors may not be ready to hand him an expensive extension down the line, thus making him a prime trade target for any team interested in upgrading their roster without breaking the bank.
While it makes sense why the Pelicans would be interested in OG Anunoby given their injury-riddled season and lack of an additional impact player to help out their star trio, they apparently weren’t completely sold on dealing away three first-round picks, even with the abundance of picks they have at their disposal.
The Pels have been stockpiling first-rounders for a while now with this precise move in mind and it would’ve made perfect sense to cash them in for Anunoby considering he could have made an immediate impact for a team that is striving hard to make moves up the standings. Ultimately though, New Orleans never ended up pulling the trigger.