Not only does the up-and-coming Western Conference squad owe its second-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the Darius Songaila trade back in 2009, but the first-round selection is gone as well. It was handed over to the Philadelphia 76ers as a part of last offseason's Jrue Holiday trade, though injuries prevented the Pelicans from reaping the rewards in 2013-14.
NOLA might not have any picks at its disposal right now, but it's aggressively shopping for a first-rounder, per Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears:
Well, the Pelicans are certainly targeting the right types of players.
Though Davis is quite capable of playing center, he's best served as a power forward who can stretch out the court and showcase his versatility without being confined to the paint on both ends of the floor. And small forward is the obvious weakness on this roster, given the abundance of talent at the 4 and in the backcourt.
Interestingly, 82games.com shows that point guard and power forward were the weakest positions last season, at least in terms of net player efficiency rating. However, it's worth remembering the context, as Holiday played only 34 games and Davis was forced to spend nearly half his time at center due to sheer necessity.
Those positions may have been weak in 2013-14, but adding a center and having Holiday come back will certainly fix that.
Trading into the first round is rather broad, though. It doesn't indicate the part of the opening portion that New Orleans is attempting to move into, which leads to some intelligent speculation from CBS Sports' Matt Moore:
The issue here is that the Pelicans are short on assets they can move that aren't considerable. There are definitely teams trying to move their picks, with teams as high as the No. 8 Kings open to the possibility, but the Pelicans' roster is top heavy. If they're willing to part with Eric Gordon, even on that sizeable contract, and another future first, they might be able to move into the teens and acquire someone like Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, K.J. McDaniel, or C.J. Wilcox.
There have been rumors that Michigan center Mitch McGary has a promise in the 20's, but if for some reason he slips into the second round, where most mocks have him located, the Pelicans might be able to package lesser assets to grab him in the high second.
It's too soon to determine NOLA's exact target, but none of the aforementioned players are particularly bad options. Everything just depends on the package the Pelicans are capable of putting together, as it would be highly beneficial for them to part ways with Eric Gordon, freeing themselves of his albatross contract and opening up the 2 for Tyreke Evans.
That said, there are still a number of other assets that could be traded, including those future picks. Pierre Jackson, the standout point guard who spent the 2013-14 season dominating the D-League because the big league roster was just too crowded, is certainly an intriguing bit of bait, for example.
"When we talked to him last year about going overseas for a year, that was the plan. (It was), 'Hey, we’re not going to have a draft pick next year to draft. He’s going to be our draft pick,'" general manager Dell Demps told Sean Kelley for Pelicans.com, referring to Jackson's future with the team.
He might be "our draft pick," but he doesn't have to be "the draft pick."
After all, the Pelicans have needs other than point guard, and it's now clear they're aiming to fill them before using their cap space to pursue quality free agents.
Don't sleep on this squad, especially if it's able to pull this type of deal off in proper fashion.