Pelicans Likely To Trade At Least One Of Bledsoe, Adams

There’s an expectation that the Pelicans will move at least one of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams in a trade this offseason, sources tell Will Guillory of The Athletic.

Neither Bledsoe nor Adams has positive trade value, as they’re both coming off underwhelming seasons in New Orleans and are under contract for two more years (though Bledsoe’s 2022/23 salary is only partially guaranteed). The two veterans will earn $18MM and $17MM, respectively, during the ’21/22 season.

That means the Pelicans would have to attach a sweetener to Bledsoe and Adams to move them, and it’s unclear how much they’d be willing to give up, according to Guillory. However, the team would like to move at least one of those salaries in order to gain flexibility to add more depth to the roster, Guillory notes. Clearing some salary would also make it easier for New Orleans to pursue an impact free agent such as Kyle Lowry, who is reportedly on the club’s radar.

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As Sam Vecenie of The Athletic observes within the same story, Adams may have more trade value than Bledsoe, since the veteran center’s play didn’t drop off significantly — he just wasn’t a great fit alongside Zion Williamson in the Pelicans’ frontcourt. Bledsoe, on the other hand, saw his PPG (12.2), APG (3.8), and FG% (.421) dip to their lowest marks in years and didn’t make his usual impact on the defensive end.

If the Pelicans want to aggressively clear salary from their books without surrendering too many assets, they could consider trading Adams and waiving-and-stretching Bledsoe, Vecenie suggests. Bledsoe has two years left on his deal but only about $22MM in guaranteed salary, which could be spread across five seasons.

New Orleans does have the draft assets necessary to trade both Bledsoe and Adams if that’s the team’s preferred route. The Pelicans control all their own first-round picks, plus four extra first-rounders and three first-round pick swaps from the Lakers and Bucks.

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