2. Pelicans get rim protector and under the tax
New Orleans is currently $2.9 million over the luxury tax and figures to duck under before the trade deadline. They tried to trade Kira Lewis Jr. this offseason, and Jonas Valanciunas popped up in talks as the Pelicans looked for a rim-protection upgrade. Neither move materialized, but the Pelicans will be more motivated to make it happen before the deadline.
It may be difficult to find teams in the market for Valanciunas. He is a strong offensive big man, but struggles to protect the rim and is on a $15.4 million expiring contract. Will a contender search for an offensive boost at the five and give back something on the defensive end?
If not, the Pelicans will have to search for their upgrade. Robert Williams improves their defense and gives them a legitimate chance to make a run in the Western Conference if they are healthy. New Orleans would have to give up a first-round pick, but it solves two issues for the franchise.
The Blazers would be ecstatic to get a first-rounder and could either reroute Valanciunas to a third team or buy out his expiring contract. This may be the perfect opportunity for both sides, but a struggling team may offer the biggest return for Portland.