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Pelicans Continue A Rapid And Stunning Rebuild Around Zion Williamson

If the latest trade goes through, they added three new players on Sunday

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans-Press Conference
This is just a cool picture of Zion Williamson’s little brother Noah Anderson with Pelicans owner Gayle Benson. That kid is having a great ride
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when people thought Zion Williamson was disappointed that the Pelicans won the lottery?

Seems like a long time ago.

David Griffin has completely remade that team. He made a brilliant trade with LA that he parlayed into even more future talent via trade. Then Sunday he made three more moves: he signed former Blue Devil JJ Redick to a two-year talent, thus providing outside shooting, picked up Euro star Nicolo Melli, another strong three point shooter and then apparently traded for Utah’s Derrick Favors to shore up the inside game.

So here’s what he’s done since the lottery:

  • Picked up Zion Williamson, admittedly lucky but still. And at least he didn’t screw that up.
  • Traded Anthony Davis to the Lakers for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a 2019 first-round pick, a 2021 protected first-round pick, a swappable 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 first-round pick, and cash.
  • Traded some of those assets for draft picks he turned into Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  • Signed Redick and Melli
  • Traded for Favors

This is an absolute tour de force of management brilliance.

Now they have a core of Williamson, Redick, Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton, Hart, Jahlil Okafor, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Alexander-Walker, Stanley Hayes and Favors (assuming none of that changes in the Favors trade).

They were already great defensively; now they’re adding in a ton of offensive options. Just as importantly, Redick and Holiday are consummate professionals and Favor is generally respected as well. Those guys will set a tone for an otherwise mostly young team.

The Pelicans were 33-49 last season and were nowhere near the playoffs. Given what Griffin has done, this it at a minimum a .500 team. A few games more than that and they are in the post-season.

It’s all optimism right now of course because Griffin has done some amazing stuff and Williamson has the potential to be otherworldly but no one will no for sure until things get started.

The Pelicans will get at least a hint in July as NBA Summer League play starts Monday.

The way the schedule has been discussed has been confusing but it starts on Monday.

New Orleans plays on Friday at 9:30 - it’ll be on ESPN - as Williamson takes on his Duke buddy RJ Barrett and the New York Knicks. Make some popcorn!

Then we’ll start to get the first hints of what the Pelicans have to work with and how Duke South might work out.

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