Every front office in the league besides the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics is 100% focused on the 2024 NBA Draft. They are not all operating from the same positions of strength, however. The San Antonio Spurs have four picks coming this June while others like the New Orleans Pelicans are working with a single selection. EVP David Griffin is operating with just the 21st overall pick, but that should be good enough to help solve one problem.

The Pelicans are under pressure to win and do not have a second-round selection again until 2030. New Orleans needs to restock that inventory and can perhaps leverage some in-the-moment emotions of other organizations. There will always be varying levels of hype just before a draft; that is just the nature of the industry. A trade to move back in what has been considered a weak class for years makes almost too much sense. Willie Green does not have the room in his rotations at the moment and Griffin could always use an extra $2.7 million in cap space wiggle room.

Prices for the 21st overall pick fluctuate, but in the new CBA landscape the value of second-rounders is going up steadily. The Philadelphia 76ers needed just one second-rounder to move up from 24th to 20th in 2019. The Cleveland Cavaliers needed four second-rounders to get the 30th pick from the Detroit Pistons in that same draft. The Utah Jazz pawned off the 23rd pick to the Knicks for the 27th and 38th picks in 2020.

The 30th pick in 2020 was only worth two seconds in a deal between the Memphis Grizzlies and Celtics. The Charlotte Hornets got a 2023 first-rounder from the Denver Nuggets, New York's 2023 second, Utah's 2023 second, another 2023 second-round pick depending on the standings, and New York's 2024 second-rounder in a complicated deal. Detroit received the rights to Jalen Duren and Kemba Walker wound up with a contender.

The 35th pick was worth two future seconds in last year's draft. So where might the Pelicans find a trade partner this June? Looking at all possible trade partners presents several reasonable options.

Spurs short on roster spots

The Spurs have four picks (two firsts, two seconds) coming in late June and not enough room on the roster. Swapping out two seconds this year and two in future years should get enough to spark a conversation for the 21st overall pick.

San Antonio can claim three seconds in 2025, including one from the Chicago Bulls. The Spurs own five second-rounders in 2026. Their surplus goes beyond the four that the Pelicans sent in the Devonte' Graham deal. If the Hawks need a third first-rounder as a convincing sweetener, the Spurs should be dialing up the Pelicans. New Orleans might be the most desperate team when it comes to seeking out future second-round picks.

Knicks need trade ammunition more than rookies

The New York Knicks have the 24th and 25th selections in 2024. They were just eliminated in the second round and injuries played a large part of that early postseason end for the Eastern Conference's second seed. The Knicks need trade ammunition and another proven veteran to reload for another NBA Playoffs run. Two extra rookies in a weak draft class offer very little help next season.

Those rookies would not be tradeable until December once they sign their rookie contracts. That's even worse from New York's perspective. Trading one pick and using a few of their surplus seconds to move up a few spots with the other is a straightforward approach that should placate a fanbase expecting another inspiring season. A rookie rotting away on the bench does not advance those goals.

Working with the Wizards 

Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (8) dribbles against New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) during the second half at Smoothie King Center.
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The Washington Wizards are starting another rebuild and have 27 future draft picks available for trade. Washington has the second, 26th, and 52nd selections in 2024 but none in next year's stacked draft. There will be someone worth a flier at the 26th pick for the Pelicans. Moving back five spots and picking up three or four future second-rounders from the Wizards should not take too much magic.

New Orleans can start by offering the 21st overall to Washington for the 26th in 2024, and three future seconds. Perhaps the Pelicans use the 52nd to pluck a draft-and-stash prospect. If not, the Wizards have two seconds in 2025 and four in 2026 to keep the conversation going. The hardest part for EVP David Griffin would be to somehow get Deni Avdija in the deal.

Nuggets want to nudge up NBA Draft board

There is little doubt Nikola Jokic and the no-longer-reigning NBA Champions will again be in contention next season. They do not need much but depth and fresh blood never hurt a strong locker room. The Denver Nuggets might want to jump a few spots this summer if they've pegged a prospect for a decent role.

New Orleans can save almost $600,000 by moving back seven spots. The Pelicans would want to push the second-rounders out to 2026, 2029, and 2030 in this scenario. Denver does not look lottery-bound as long as the NBA MVP is playing in the Mile High City.

Just feeling out the Jazz

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) runs into Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) during the first quarter at Smoothie King Center.
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The Utah Jazz hold the 10th, 29th, and 32nd picks in 2024. They only have three second-rounders after the coming draft though, in 2024, 2029, and 2030. But, to use a cute quote from the original Ice Age, “Who needs them anyways?”

The Jazz control 14 first-rounders from 2025-2030. Those three second-rounders hold less value to them than the rest of the league. Seeing if Danny Ainge would sell low seems foolish, but someone has to try and be the first to fleece the Hall of Famer. Start with the second-rounders. Finish with the Finnish All-Star Lauri Markkanen.