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Report: Bledsoe, Adams, Picks Traded to Grizzlies; Valanciunas, More to Pelicans

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe (5) attempts a jump shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt)
Brian Westerholt/Associated Press

The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to trade veterans Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe to the Memphis Grizzlies, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Memphis will also receive picks No. 10 and No. 40 in the 2021 NBA draft as well as the Los Angeles Lakers' 2022 protected first-round pick. Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported the 2022 first-rounder Memphis will receive is top-10 protected. 

New Orleans will get the No. 17 and No. 51 overall picks in Thursday's draft as well as center Jonas Valanciunas.

Per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Bledsoe is not expected to remain with the Grizzlies.

Wojnarowski provided some reasoning for the move from the Pelicans' perspective:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

New Orleans creates salary cap space for August that allows them to either match an offer sheet on Lonzo Ball, or have the cap space to pursue a significant free agent point guard, including Kyle Lowry and others. Pels liked Valanciunas as floor spacer at center over Adams, too. https://t.co/3YRyBTEg1S

Bledsoe spent the 2020-21 season with the Pelicans after being sent to New Orleans as part of the four-team Jrue Holiday trade in November. He averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his worst season in nearly a decade. Adams also struggled with averages of 7.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game after coming over from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the same deal.

The Pelicans were among the NBA's biggest disappointments in 2020-21, leading to the dismissal of coach Stan Van Gundy after only one season and a roster retooling around Zion Williamson.

Bledsoe is due $18.1 million next season, but only $3.9 million of his $19.4 million salary for 2022-23 is guaranteed. Adams is owed more than $17 million in each of the next two years.

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Bledsoe showed significant signs of decline throughout last season, lacking the explosiveness on both ends of the floor that once garnered a "Mini LeBron" nickname. Nearly half of his shots came from beyond the three-point arc, which wouldn't be an issue except that Bledsoe is a career 33.7 percent shooter from distance.

The Pelicans struggled with spacing, which was partially a byproduct of teams' not respecting Bledsoe's jumper but also impeded his ability to get to the rim. New Orleans was outscored by 1.3 points per 100 possessions with Bledsoe on the floor and outscored opponents with him on the bench.

Valanciunas should provide more offensive help after averaging a career-high 17.1 points per game last season. He also set a new personal best with 12.5 rebounds per game, third-most in the NBA.

While New Orleans will look to reload with its younger stars, Memphis adds two veterans at a low price with the hope they will bounce back in 2021-22. The added draft capital will also help as the team looks to move up the standings in the Western Conference.

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