The New Orleans Pelicans have been involved in plenty of trade rumors this offseason but if any persist, they don't surround face of the franchise Zion Williamson, but seldom-used point guard Kira Lewis Jr. and starting center Jonas Valanciunas.
Valanciunas, the No. 5 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has spent the last two seasons in New Orleans as he continues to see where his basketball journey takes him. Though he's essentially been a full-time starter in every season of his career, the 6-foot-11 and 265-pound Lithuanian is far from fleet-footed. In fact, at 31 years old, he's a defensive liability whose contributions on the glass and scoreboard don't always outweigh those concerns.
Consequently, the Pelicans are rumored to be looking for deals for Valanciunas, with a pair of specific players in mind: Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen and Detroit Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart.
“With Valanciunas heading into the final year of his deal, the Pels have been sniffing around for other options in recent months,” per William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic. “There have been rumors of them exploring potential deals for Jarrett Allen or Isaiah Stewart, but nothing has materialized quite yet.”
New Orleans being linked to a player from Cleveland isn't surprising, given the executive vice president of basketball operation's history with the Cavs organization. Not in the least because Allen, an All-Star in 2022, underperformed through the 2022-23 regular and postseason.
Still, as a springier big man than JV and a more impactful shot-blocker, he has his clear advantages over the Pels' incumbent starter.
In the case of Stewart, New Orleans would be getting a fluid athlete and fiery competitor. Stewart may be without a true position at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, but he can make his presence inside.