Now that the No. 1 overall pick has returned to the rotation, the Pels and head coach Alvin Gentry will have to get a better feel for his best lineups. That will be especially true if the Pelicans figure to make a move prior to the February trade deadline.
Will the Pelicans be buyers or sellers?
Well, there are conflicting reports on that front. Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported just over two weeks ago that the Pelicans were considering making a move for another veteran. But just yesterday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the Pelicans would not make a move. That’s because they’re evaluating how their rotation responds to Williamson.
But if New Orleans are intent on making a playoff push, might it be wise to consider making a run at a veteran wing player to help solidify the roster?
Here are two players the Pelicans should consider ahead of the trade deadline.
Covington’s name has been tossed around seemingly since the beginning of the season. Yet halfway through the year, he remains in Minnesota? Will Covington be moved?
If the Timberwolves remain intent on trading him, the Pelicans should consider getting involved. Covington is a good fit because he is a fairly reliable shooter (though he has struggled from the perimeter as of late) that can play multiple positions and rebound at a fairly high level.
Moreover, Covington would provide much-needed wing defense. The Pelicans figure to make strides on the offensive end especially with Zion int he rotation. However, team defense is still a concern.
New Orleans rank 29th in opponents scoring average and 24th in defensive rating, according to Basketball Reference. Brandon Ingram deserves more All-Star consideration for what he has done on the offensive end of the floor, but he is not the same breed of wing defender as Covington, who is averaging 1.6 steals and close to a block per game in less than 30 minutes of run per night.
The price would be high–New Orleans might have to give up a first-round pick–but Covington is appealing because he is under contract through next season, and he fills a glaring hole.
The reason for acquiring someone like Bjelica is fairly simple.
When both Williamson and Derrick Favors are on the floor, the Pelicans have two subpar shooters in the frontcourt for a team that ranks among the leaders in three-point attempts.
Trading for Bjelica–shooting over 43 percent from beyond the arc on 4.5 attempts per game–would give New Orleans a stretch-four type that can also rebound and serve as a playmaker in pick-and-pop scenarios. He can spell Favors and or Williamson while allowing the Pelicans to go “small” or “big” with their lineups.
Bjelica, like Covington, is under contract through next season. He would give the Pelicans a steady veteran presence in the frontcourt alongside Favors.