The Pelicans have officially announced a pair of previously–reported trades, having combined their acquisitions of center Jonas Valanciunas and point guard Devonte’ Graham into a single transaction involving both the Grizzlies and Hornets. Memphis and Charlotte have put out press releases as well.
The details of the three-team deal are as follows:
- To Pelicans:
- To Grizzlies:
- Eric Bledsoe (from Pelicans)
- Steven Adams (from Pelicans)
- The draft rights to Ziaire Williams (No. 10 pick; from Pelicans)
- The draft rights to Jared Butler (No. 40 pick; from Pelicans)
- Note: Butler will be rerouted to the Jazz in a subsequent trade.
- The Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected; from Pelicans)
- To Hornets:
- Wesley Iwundu (from Pelicans)
- The Pelicans’ 2022 first-round pick (top-14 protected; from Pelicans)
- Note: If the Pelicans’ 2022 first-rounder falls in the top 14, the Hornets will instead receive New Orleans’ 2022 and 2024 second-round picks, per Rod Boone of SI.com.
- Cash (from Pelicans)
- The draft rights to Tyler Harvey (from Grizzlies)
The details of the three-team trade essentially line up with what was previously reported, with two new pieces added — Iwundu going from New Orleans to Charlotte and Harvey’s draft rights going from Memphis to Charlotte. Harvey was presumably only included to ensure that the Grizzlies and Hornets were “touching,” since otherwise Memphis would only have been exchanging assets with the Pelicans.
Looping their sign-and-trade acquisition of Graham into the trade suggests the Pelicans will operate over the cap, using Bledsoe’s and Adams’ outgoing salaries in order to match both Valanciunas and Graham instead of signing Graham into cap space.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), it also allows New Orleans to generate a $17MM+ trade exception in the deal. Only Bledsoe’s and Iwundu’s outgoing salaries are needed for matching purposes to take on Valanciunas and Graham, meaning the Pelicans’ new TPE is worth Adams’ salary ($17,073,171).
Graham reportedly signed a four-year, $47MM contract with the Pelicans as part of the trade. He and Tomas Satoransky appear set to play the majority of the minutes at point guard in New Orleans, barring further roster changes. The team is sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago in a separate sign-and-trade deal.
Graham made just 37.7% of his field goal attempts in 2020/21, but his three-point mark was a very respectable 37.5%. In addition to his ability to make threes, Graham is an above-average play-maker (6.5 APG over the last two seasons) and a respectable defender.
Swapping out Adams for Valanciunas should allow the Pelicans to improve their frontcourt spacing. Valanciunas isn’t exactly a long-distance marksman, but has a solid mid-range game and will shoot the occasional three-pointer, which should create more room for Zion Williamson to operate. The former No. 5 overall pick averaged an impressive 17.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG with a .592/.368/.773 shooting line in 62 games (28.3 MPG) this past season.
From the Grizzlies’ perspective, the deal was a way to improve their draft assets in both 2021 and 2022 as a result of their willingness to take on Adams’ and Bledsoe’s pricey contracts. The team moved up from No. 17 to No. 10 to snag Williams, and later flipped the No. 40 pick (Butler) to Utah in a separate trade to move up to No. 30 for Santi Aldama.
[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Trades]
The Hornets, meanwhile, decided to move on from Graham and got a protected first-round pick from New Orleans in exchange for waiving their right to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Iwundu’s guaranteed $1.82MM salary for 2021/22 will eat up a small amount of Charlotte’s cap room, but the team will still have enough flexibility to complete its signing of Kelly Oubre to a two-year deal in the range of $12-13MM per year.