Smart front offices find ways to squeeze every drop of value out of every single asset that passes through the building. It is the only way for small-market teams allergic to the luxury tax to stay competitive. The New Orleans Pelicans are getting squeezed out of the Western Conference's top-six conversation by the day though. That's why EVP David Griffin has got to start exploring every opportunity to cash in on Larry Nance Jr. this offseason.

The Pelicans could get their new center sorted out with the Nets. However, Nicolas Claxton has to agree to a contract extension that starts under $20 million in the first season for this scenario to work without including Dyson Daniels. Nance Jr. and E.J. Liddell work financially if Claxton is at $18.5 million for three or four years with 8% raises year-over-year.

Deni Avdija (Washington Wizards) would be a nice 23-year-old replacement for Brandon Ingram. However, that deal would require significant draft capital from New Orleans. That's a deal breaker for Avdija. Likewise, the Los Angeles Lakers are not giving up on Austin Reaves, though they'd at least have to say ‘no' to a deal including Nance Jr. and their draft picks back.

So what are the other options for getting a return out of the Nance Jr. investment?

Knicks need new blood

Mitchell Robinson seems to be more surplus than requirement in New York following Isaiah Hartenstein's NBA Playoffs breakout performance. Julius Randle is already entrenched with the Madison Square Garden crowds and is under contract for another three seasons.

Robinson is the odd man out and the Pelicans should be in the bidding wars. He averaged 5.6 points and 8.5 rebounds in 31 regular-season games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury that eventually required surgery.

Cashing in with the Cavaliers

Evan Mobley is going to need a new contract. However, Nance Jr. and Mobley can currently be swapped straight up financially. The draft compensation is where the Pelicans have to draw the line. Cleveland will have to balance any inquiries with Mobley's emotions as the two sides try to hash out a near-max-level contract extension.

Making waves with the Magic

New Orleans Pelicans Forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) stands on the court after a foul stops play against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Smoothie King Center.
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Wendell Carter Jr. did well against the twin tower pairing of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley in the NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately, he will also be undergoing hand surgery this summer as well.

Carter Jr. was a target at the last trade deadline and the Magic are still likely to make some big roster-shuffling moves over the next few months. Carter Jr.'s value remains steady, and so does a deal involving Nance Jr.

Slick talks with the 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers did not fare well when Joel Embiid took a rest during the NBA Playoffs. The 76ers were played off the court when the former NBA MVP took a seat. However, that cannot all be blamed on Paul Reed, right? The 26-year-old played all 82 games to help Philadelphia limp into the postseason.

Reed averaged a respectable 7.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 0.8 steals this season. He shot 54% from the field, 36.8% from three-point range, and hit 71.8% from the free throw line.