The Thunder, with Paul George and Russell Westbrook, last year became the first team in NBA history to trade two reigning All-NBA players in the same summer. Oklahoma City has been in teardown mode ever since.
The latest player sold off for picks? Steven Adams, who’s getting traded to the Pelicans.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
To be clear: Denver traded a 2023 protected first-round pick to New Orleans for the draft rights to RJ Hampton — and THAT 2023 pick is headed thru to Oklahoma City in the Adams deal. RJ Hampton remains a Nugget.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 21, 2020
The Pelicans could use more size and toughness with Derrick Favors leaving for the Jazz.
But does New Orleans want Adams enough to trade a first-rounder and multiple second-rounders and take on his $27,528,088 salary?
I doubt it.
The Pelicans can’t just absorb that large (expiring) contract without sending out salary, anyway. So, there are more elements of this trade – presumably negative-value contracts going to Oklahoma City. Perhaps, this deal will get folded into the Jrue Holiday trade with Eric Bledsoe and/or George Hill going to the Thunder (who’d surely look to flip another productive guard for even more picks).
In New Orleans, Adams will be a poor offensive fit with Zion Williamson, clogging the paint. But until Williamson improves his inept defense, the Pelicans benefit in many matchups from pairing him with a defensive-minded center. And until Williamson is healthy and conditioned enough to play major minutes, New Orleans has ample opportunity to play Adams without Williamson.