NBA rumors: Pelicans are 'sleeper' to land Dejounte Murray
New Orleans is "very much in play," but there is no trade imminent. He also notes that the Lakers are still in the mix, despite the recent lull in talks. That said, the Pelicans are flushed with extra draft picks to include in a Murray trade. If a bidding war sparks, the Pelicans can very easily outbid the Lakers, whose presumed package in centered on D'Angelo Russell and one first-round selection.
Of note, however, is Atlanta's lack of urgency. The Hawks are comfortable keeping Murray past the deadline and reassessing in the offseason, when more teams have more draft picks available to trade.
The Pelicans are right in the thick of the crowded Western Conference playoff race, currently the No. 7 seed at 29-21. Murray has a four-year, $114 million extension that kicks in next season. One potential centerpiece in a return package is CJ McCollum, who has a two-year, $64 million extension that also kicks in next season. Jonas Valanciunas' expiring $15.4 million contract is much closer to Murray's salary ($18.2 million), however, and could work in a one-for-one swap. The Pelicans are known to be floating Valanciunas in trade conversations.
It has been a difficult season for the Pelicans' backcourt, with injuries cutting into both McCollum and Jose Alvarado. The fit with Murray is a bit dubious, but he would give New Orleans another halfcourt slasher and shot creator to relieve pressure on Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. That said, the Pelicans' best offense tends to come with Zion on the ball. Murray can hit spot-up 3s and attack off the catch, but he's more suited to primary ball-handling duties.
Despite fit concerns, the talent is undeniable and Murray would surely impact New Orleans in a positive way overall. If he can get back to his old ways on defense, the combined disruptive power of Murray, Herb Jones, and Jose Alvarado could go a long way in the postseason.