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Should the New Orleans Pelicans trade for Robert Williams III?

To answer this question quickly, probably not.

The Pelicans have a talented young roster with a few problems/question marks, and while Robert Williams III might relieve them of their lack of interior defense for the future (since he's out for this year), what they'd have to give up might not make that improvement worth it.

Williams III's value is a bit of an unknown due to his current knee injury and his unfortunate injury history.

While his $12.4 million value on his contract for next season (and $13.2 million the following season) makes him a relatively low-risk option, especially since Portland might not be able to ask for as much due to that aforementioned injury, they're still not going to give him up for nothing.

If anything, his contract is just as much of a reason for Portland to hold onto him and see if they can get a more significant return next season, when he can return to play and show teams that he can return to his solid Boston Celtic form.

But alas, there are reports that Portland is open to trading everyone (duh), and these reports highlighted Williams' name.

So, it's worth exploring Williams' trade value to the Pelicans, assuming that they'd be willing to take a chance on a future starting/backup big man if they want to possibly let current starting big man Jonas Valanciunas walk in free agency this off-season and focus on saving the cap space needed to extend one of their younger, better-fitting players like Trey Murphy III.

Here are a couple of options if the Pelicans want to be active and give Zion and Brandon Ingram more of a defensive-minded big man in the middle.

The Dyson Daniels experience

Pelicans Receive: Robert Williams III

Trail Blazers Receive: Dyson Daniels, Cody Zeller, 2024 Pelicans 1st Rounder (Unprotected)

This is a lot to give up for someone who isn't even going to be playing this season. I'd hate to see them do this deal, but if they're eager enough to get Williams on their roster right this minute (for whatever reason), they're going to likely fork over some value.

Daniels and a first is certainly that.

I'm really high on Daniels in terms of his defensive ability and playmaking potential. Still, the easiest way for him to gain more value in the rotation is by becoming an average 3-point shooter.

Right now, he's trending in the wrong direction in that category, as his percentage has taken a 4% dip from his rookie season, although he's experienced a bit of an uptick in 3-point volume and minutes per game.

So, while Daniels would be a tough guy to lose out on because of his immense potential as a future 3-and-D running mate who can also run a bit of point for Zion, BI, and Herb Jones, I'd much rather them hold onto him, and wait out Portland or just look elsewhere for rim protection, this might be what it'd have to take.

Zeller and the first are a bit of an afterthought, as assuming the Pelicans are at least moderately successful this season, it'll be a mid-round selection, and they own the Lakers' first outright this season, so that should mitigate any loss felt by missing out on the first.

There are only so many roster spots, so consolidating a bit of their draft capital could be a big win for them while also gaining a potentially valuable starter for the near future.

If Portland is really that eager...

Pelicans receive: Robert Williams III.

Trail Blazers receive: Cody Zeller, EJ Liddell, Naji Marshall, 2024 Pelicans First Rounder (Unprotected)

Zeller, Lidell, and Marshall are mostly being used to make this deal work financially, as none provide any immediate or future value for Portland as high-upside players, but the pick is what Portland is more likely to covet.

Marshall is a fine rotational wing player, Lidell could develop into that same thing, and Zeller is a backup big man on an expiring contract. As mentioned earlier, the Pelicans would be getting a potential replacement for Valanciunas if they want to save a bit of money, let him walk next year, and replace him with Williams III.

I actually would enjoy this deal thoroughly, as it would give the Pelicans at the very least a starting center for next year, but if they wanted to bring Valanciunas back (which seems entirely possible), they could have Williams III and Larry Nance, Jr. as their big man rotation off the bench. It's not too shabby, and if they're able to get Jonas back on a one-year deal (he's going to be 32 next year, and his ability to get an expensive, long-term deal would seem a bit limited).

All in all, the Pelicans have no reason to at least explore this kind of deal. with their team still young enough to be promising but nearing the point where their promise runs out, and they need to either win or get off the pot.

Hopefully, it's the former.

(Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)


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