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Why the Pelicans should avoid NBA Trade Deadline deals | Locked On Pelicans

While it may make sense for the Pelicans to be interested in a trade at the NBA deadline, Locked On Pels host Jake Madison says they shouldn't.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans has risen to a top seed in the Western Conference this NBA season, making good on preseason excitement and positioning themselves for a deep playoff run. That understandably will make Pelicans fans look toward the trade market, but the team may actually be better-suited to stand pat.

The Pelicans are fourth in the West with a 2.5-game lead over fifth, despite Zion Williamson missing 16 games and Brandon Ingram missing 30 games. When the team looks toward the future and balances the reality that better health should, they might choose to play things conservatively ahead of the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline, said host Jake Madison on a Friday edition of Locked On Pelicans.

“When you look at this team right now, what’s the biggest problem? Is it not playing defense, lack of offense, or is it simply they’re really injured, they don’t have Zion Williamson, they don’t have Brandon Ingram, and that’s been a problem for them?” Madison asked.

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In the show, Madison explained that the team’s natural starting lineup outscores opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions when healthy, an elite mark. That would indicate they can compete with the best of the NBA even without a move.

“That starting lineup is championship-contender good,” Madison said. “Some of the panic over how they look right now is a little overdone, and if they can get healthy, and it’s a big if … I don’t know if you think they need to make a move. This team is really good.”

Beyond that, unless they reshuffle the roster this summer, the Pelicans are already slated to go into the luxury tax in the 2023-24 season, when Williamson’s maximum contract extension kicks in. Because of NBA rules around increased payments for repeat taxpayers, it might be smarter for the Pelicans to avoid going into the luxury tax this season, knowing it will be harder to avoid going forward.

“I don’t know how many years the Pelicans are going to want to pay the luxury tax for, and even if they do, they’re not going to want to go that deep in it,” Madison explained.

Pelicans fans may have their eyes on great talents like OG Anunoby or Bojan Bogdanovic on the trade market, but there’s a good argument to be made that not making a move could be just as reasonable.

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