The New Orleans Pelicans are building off their surprising 2021-2022 season with a bang. This season, the Pels have been absolutely tearing up the competition. At the quarter mark of the year, they are sitting pretty with a 12-8 record, tied for third in the wide-open Western Conference.

Despite their amazing standing, though, there’s still room for this team to improve. One way for them to fill up gaps in their team is via a trade. While most of their roster has performed at or above expectations, one player is currently glued to the bench who can be an attractive trade target.

It’s time to talk about Jaxson Hayes, and why the Pelicans should trade him now.

Pelicans NEED to trade Jaxson Hayes

There was a time when Jaxson Hayes was considered a valuable piece for the New Orleans Pelicans. The lanky center had a lot of things going for him as a player who moves fast for his size with insane athleticism. Many figured he’d be the center of the future for the team, even with Zion Williamson’s arrival.

However, the last few years have certainly soured Pelicans fans’ thoughts on Jaxson Hayes. For one, the center seemed to always be in the team’s doghouse due to his attitude. Even worse, though, were his multiple run-ins with the law. On multiple occasions, Hayes was involved in some violent altercations.

The Pelicans also currently have a bunch of standout performers at the positions that Hayes usually plays. Zion Williamson is a monster who needs no introduction: we all know what he can do. Behind him is a collection of forwards who can do a variety of things: Larry Nance Jr. is a great all-around piece who can also slot in as an undersized center. Meanwhile, Naji Marshall has been quietly solid for this team.

At the center position, Jonas Valanciunas has solidified his spot on the starting five. After bouncing from team to team after his Raptors exit, the Lithuanian Hammer has found his role with the Pelicans. He has been above-average on defense, and he provides a different dimension to the offense that Hayes can’t bring. There’s really nowhere else for Jaxson Hayes to go with this team, unfortunately, and it shows in the minutes he’s playing.

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However, there’s still certainly enough value for Jaxson Hayes to fetch a decent amount on the trade market. When he was healthy and had a green light, the center performed at a solid level off the bench for the Pelicans. He averaged around nine points on excellent efficiency, while recording nearly a block per game and 4.5 rebounds. The tools are certainly there for someone like Hayes to succeed.

There should certainly be teams interested in trading for Jaxson Hayes in the hopes of being the one to reform him. He has the talent to succeed, after all: his rim-running and rim protection are pretty good despite playing only seven years of organized basketball. The real issues with Hayes are his off-the-court run-ins and his general attitude toward basketball.

While it’s nice to have a backup option in your back pocket like Jaxson Hayes, if the opportunity to get rid of him and get positive value comes up, the Pels would be remiss to not capitalize on that opportunity. They are surely on the lookout for a deal.