In the long and quiet stretch of the off-season, a new rumor has come through.
Murmurs are swirling around the New Orleans Pelicans as they contemplate the possibility of trading their reliable big man, Jonas Valanciunas. Having just completed his second season with the team, the 31-year-old Lithuanian showcased his value, averaging an impressive double-double of 14.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game on an efficient 54.7% shooting.
With Valančiūnas heading into the final year of his deal, the Pels have been sniffing around for other options in recent months. There have been rumors of them exploring potential deals for Jarrett Allen or Isaiah Stewart, but nothing has materialized quite yet.
Valanciunas has undoubtedly played a crucial role for the Pelicans during his tenure, even showing growth in his outside shooting. However, the team’s inability to reach their full potential has fuelled frustration within the organization. Despite possessing a talented roster, featuring stars like Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, and Brandon Ingram, injuries and off-court issues – mostly by Williamson – have hampered their growth year after year, leaving them as a fringe playoff contender at best.
The Pelicans’ desire to explore trade possibilities for Valanciunas is not an indictment of his performance, but rather a strategic move aimed at reshaping the team and propelling them towards a brighter future. While the big man’s contributions have been valuable, the organization is eager to address their shortcomings and bolster their chances of becoming true title contenders.
The potential void left by Valanciunas can be filled by the targeted replacements. Jarrett Allen of the Cleveland Cavaliers is a proven rebounder and shot-blocker, posting a stat line of 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game this past season. As a more defensively inclined player, he’s an attractive option for New Orleans’ frontcourt. Don’t forget that he was an All-Star reserve just a year ago! He can very well reach that level again.
The other choice is intriguing as well. Standing at 6’8, Isaiah Stewart of the Detroit Pistons is considered undersized for a center. However, his beefy built, physical presence, and overall tenacity compensates the slight shortage in height. He put up 11.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in 2022-23, and we’ve seen dedication to improving his game as he has extended his range from the three-point line, swishing 1.3 treys last season.
It should be noted, though, that Stewart just signed a four-year, $64 million extension with the Pistons last July 13th. He may not be easy to poach away.
The potential departure of Valanciunas signifies a strategic shift for the Pelicans, focusing on building a cohesive team that can consistently contend in the playoffs. By targeting younger talents like Allen or Stewart, the team aims to strengthen their core and create a more balanced roster.
As fans eagerly await the outcome of these trade discussions, the Pelicans’ front office faces a pivotal moment in their quest to develop a sustainable winning culture. With an array of talent at their disposal, it is crucial to make the right moves that will maximize the potential of Williamson, McCollum, and Ingram, as well as the rise of role players Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones. There’s an argument to be made about letting Zion go instead, but that’s a long debate for a different story.
Ultimately, the future of Jonas Valanciunas with the New Orleans Pelicans remains uncertain. Whether he stays and continues to contribute as a reliable presence or becomes a valuable trade asset to build a stronger roster, the Pelicans’ decisions will shape the trajectory of the team for years to come.
The Pels roster are a nice collection of hoopers. The hope is see them hit their potential or at least go somewhere where they can shine the most.