Self awareness is key in all aspects of life. necessary about NBA Trade deadline.
At this point in the NBA calendar, teams spend countless hours assessing assets and what it might cost to load them up for the present or prepare for the future.
Getting this process right doesn’t start with the evaluation of the other 29 teams. It’s about looking in the mirror.
This is especially true of such a team swans.
After losing six in a row and 11 of their last 14, the confidence this group has gained has waned considerably. Losing your best players for several weeks will have this effect.
However, the bigger concern is the ground they have lost in the race in the West during this last difficult patch. After having the second best record in the conference at the start of the month, New Orleans and the 13th seed Lakers Now separated by only three games.
After missing 29 games with a toe injury, Brandon Ingram is finally back to the lineup on Wednesday. It was the jolt of life the Bills needed to get some of their swagger back. But it also increased the sense of urgency around everyone within the organization.
If they’re going to make it back to the top level for the West, they need to start showing it off sooner rather than later, with a brutal road trip coming up next week, including games in Milwaukee, Denver, and Dallas.
This is where self-reflection comes into play.
The Pelicans clearly have enough talent to be considered a serious threat to get to the Western Conference Finals when they’re healthy. Zion Williamson, Ingram W CJ McCollum You have what it takes to trade blows with anyone when they are at their best.
It makes sense for a team with such aspirations and this amount of talent to seriously consider what it takes to go after team-makers like OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic And John Collins.
But the pelicans are in a unique position.
The “Big 3” have only played 172 minutes together this season. And as good as they looked in the stretches, they still have a long way to go in developing the chemistry and cohesion needed to perform in the playoffs.
History tells us that experience is one of the most valuable commodities a team can bring into the postseason, and the Pelicans are sorely lacking on the field. Ingram got his first taste of the brightest lights last season, and Zion still hasn’t scored his first minute yet.
Even with the addition of another seasoned warrior, Bills will put up an uphill battle against battle-tested teams like the Golden StateAnd MemphisAnd dallasAnd PhoenixAnd Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers.
This is not to say New Orleans can’t eliminate any of them in a playoff series. When healthy, Pels have enough firepower to scare anyone away.
The real question is: How much of the future must they be willing to sacrifice for a better opportunity in the present?
Obviously, Ingram and Williamson are untouchable. Dyson Daniels and Trey Murphy are key pieces in the puzzle. Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado And Marshall survived In a similar light, however, it’s hard to find deals that work with them because they each make less than $2 million this season.
Devont Graham W Jackson Hayes The main culprits for which the pelican trading rumors have surfaced since the summer. They’ve shown some flashes, but they don’t have much value on the open market.
Most conversations about New Orleans heading into the deadline will be the franchise’s desire to give up a first-round pick (or two) to make a trade. They have future selections from the Lakers (2024 or 2025) and dollars (2027) into a treasure trove, along with swap rights with the Lakers in 2023.
The Pelicans can put enough on the table to make themselves a serious player for anyone who expects to be available before the February 9 deadline.
This is where self-reflection comes into play again.
Does it make sense for this team to forgo future picks to improve the current roster?
It goes beyond the question of whether it would be worth giving up on future Bogdanovic or Collins choices.
The most important assessment is how New Orleans plans to build its roster in the near future with Williamson, Ingram, and McCollum all making over $30 million per season. In 2023-24, the “Big 3” and Valanciunas were sold for more than $118 million.
That’s just four players.
As much as they’ve avoided it in the past, it’s becoming clear that the Pelicans will eventually have to pay a luxury tax at some point in the near future to keep the essential pieces of this list together. But they are not rushing to that date.
The wiser move would be to continue using draft picks to acquire young players on cost-controlled contracts. This should provide the flexibility to build up the rest of the roster without feeling pressured to get rid of veterans like Valanciunas or Nance.
That doesn’t mean they should ignore calls from anyone inquiring about a first Milwaukee in 2027. But it will be essential for this franchise to continue building internally with the assets they own. The roster they’ve compiled is a great example of how much freedom having young players on junior contracts can give a team as they plan for the future.
If anything, a team like Memphis has put together a brilliant blueprint for what the Pelicans can do to maintain their viability as a serious competitor without wading deeper into luxury tax waters.
Of the 15 players on the Grizzlies’ current roster, 12 were either acquired through the draft by Memphis or signed out of college as undrafted free agents. They’ve done a great job of developing talent within their organization, and making it easy to predict the future with them Ja Morantand Garren Jackson f Desmond Bean Everything revolves around huge contracts in the long run. It is not easy to achieve success in a market like Memphis.
New Orleans will have to deal with the same challenges.
But there is another factor here that swans can apply to themselves.
The Grizzlies have felt similar pressure the past few seasons to make a big move and give themselves a better title shot. They’ll have more justification for pushing their chips inward now with the squad they’ve built and experience from the last couple of seasons.
Memphis has mostly fought back, and most people expect them to repeat that this year. The basic reason for them is simple: they’ve created a team full of guys who enjoy playing together and don’t want to spoil something special.
It wouldn’t be the end of the world if a smaller market team sat back and enjoyed the fruits of what they’ve built. There are benefits that can come from the team saying, “We’re going to meet the guys who brought us here.” Putting that much trust in a group often leads to them feeling more invested in advancing the franchise’s big picture.
This is not the approach Pels should take for the rest of the time. Of course, the pressure to put Zion in position for a championship will only increase each season he stays in New Orleans.
But with this team, they have been able to develop something special in the dressing room. The relationship that has grown between them individually and the city of New Orleans is unlike anything the franchise has seen in over a decade.
If they can recreate that magic with a few healthy bodies in the lineup, there’s no need to sell off future assets to improve a point or two on the back end of the tournament.
They got the chance to show that what they have as a whole may be greater than the individual parts. This is the path to true cultural transformation that lasts for years – not just the accumulation of talent.
Given this team’s financial outlook and what it has shown when Zion is healthy, it makes sense to take it slow and not rush anything. We have seen elsewhere how much such patience can pay off in beneficial ways.
(Top photo of Zion Williamson and Pelicans Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin: Shaun Gardner/Getty Images)