NBA Rumors: Pelicans floating veteran expiring contract to upgrade at center

With the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline approaching, the New Orleans Pelicans are trying to upgrade the center position.

New Orleans Pelicans v Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans v Boston Celtics / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages

In a stacked Western Conference filled with talented teams from top to bottom, the New Orleans Pelicans have flown a bit under the radar. Sitting at 26-21 and eighth in the West standings, the Pelicans are two games back of the Sacramento Kings for the fifth seed.

Given their place in the standings, New Orleans is rumored to be buyers ahead of the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline to solidify their playoff push, seeking an upgrade to their center position. 

In their pursuit of a big man, the Pelicans have dangled the expiring contract of veteran center Jonas Valanciunas, per ESPN’s Senior NBA writer Brian Windhorst (subscription required). 

New Orleans Pelicans floating Jonas Valanciunas’ contract in trade talks

According to Windhorst, the Pelicans have “sniffed around some big deals,” with Valanciunas’ expiring contract having been at the forefront of packages with some draft capital from their war chest of assets. Turning 32 in May, Valanciunas is earning roughly $15 million this season before being set to hit unrestricted free agency.

Valanciunas has been one of the more productive centers in the NBA this season, so it is interesting that the Pelicans think they need to upgrade the position. His 24 double-doubles rank within the top 10 of the league -- he is the only player ranked in the top 10 to play less than 30 minutes per game (26.1).

Moreover, Valanciunas’ durability has been critical for a Pelicans roster that has dealt with various injuries throughout their lineup this season. The Lithuanian big man has suited up for all 47 games New Orleans has played this season. In those games, Valanciunas is averaging 13.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 56.5 percent from the floor and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Windhorst also points out that the Pelicans “might be willing” to move on from 2022 No. 8 overall pick Dyson Daniels due to their abundance of guards. However, Windhorst noted that New Orleans would only trade Daniels “if the deal was right.”

'Stephen vs. Sabrina' 3-point challenge between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu set for 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend. 'Stephen vs. Sabrina' 3-point challenge between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu set for 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend. dark. Next