NBA Rumors: Pelicans Might Target More Veteran Players As Trade Deadline Nears, Per Brian Windhorst

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (L) celebrates with Josh Hart (C) and E'Twaun Moore (R) during a game against the Houston Rockets.
Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Contrary to earlier reports that suggested the New Orleans Pelicans might be willing to part ways with veterans such as Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, and J.J. Redick, the latest rumors hint that the organization might instead look toward acquiring more proven players instead of moving them to rival teams ahead of the February trade deadline.

As quoted by Bleacher Report, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the latest edition of his Hoops Collective podcast that the Pelicans, who were once expected to keep focusing on youth as they continued to struggle in the Western Conference, are now eyeing experienced players as next month’s trade deadline approaches. This apparent change in strategy, he noted, seems to have been driven in part by Favors’ recent strong performance after dealing with nagging injuries early in the 2019-20 season.

“Right now, my feel on the Pelicans is that they’re actually looking to acquire another veteran as opposed to selling off a veteran. If anything, the Pelicans have seen what a big difference it made to get Derrick Favors back and they think if they could get another veteran into their rotation, that it may even help them more.”

According to the Pelicans’ team page on Basketball-Reference, Favors is currently the Pelicans’ leading rebounder, pulling down an average of 10.2 in 22 games despite seeing just 24.1 minutes per contest. It’s not clear, however, whether the 6-foot-9-inch center/forward will continue playing a prominent role for New Orleans once the team’s coveted rookie, 2019 first-overall draft pick Zion Williamson, makes his long-awaited debut later this season.

Lonzo ties it!

Ice ❄️

— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 7, 2020

On paper, the Pelicans’ 13-25 win-loss record makes them appear more like a “seller” at the moment — a team more interested in replacing older players with younger ones and/or future draft picks. However, as Bleacher Report further explained, New Orleans has been playing better in recent weeks, having won six out of its last eight games as former Los Angeles Lakers youngster Brandon Ingram (25.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists) continues putting up career-best numbers in his first year with the Pelicans.

“It will be difficult to turn this momentum into a playoff berth, but the Pelicans can still be aggressive to keep their hope alive,” the outlet wrote of New Orleans, which is still second-to-last in the Western Conference standings despite the recent improvement in form.

While ESPN’s Windhorst wasn’t quoted as mentioning any specific veterans the Pelicans could target before the February deadline, the rumor mill has previously pointed to a few names the team might consider, including Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague.