It has come as a surprise for many New Orleans Pelicans fans that their team has underperformed so vastly this season. Following last season’s abrupt end and the firing of Alvin Gentry, many hoped the new additions of Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff would prove sufficient enough to make a playoff push. As March 25th approaches, though, the Pelicans find themselves sitting with a 19-24 record – 11th place in the Western Conference. Time is quickly running out for NBA teams, like the Pelicans, that are on the verge of a playoff spot to bring in the pieces needed to solidify their place among the contenders. Executive VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin has endured a lot of heat from fans as many feel he has not done enough to make this team a solid threat. If Griffin wants to have a job next season, there are some moves he needs to make right now.
Find a Team to Take Eric Bledsoe
One of the largest disappointments from this season for Pelicans fans has been Eric Bledsoe. After acquiring the 10-year veteran from the Milwaukee Bucks in a trade for Jrue Holiday, fans were told that they would be getting a hustle player who plays great defense. This has not been the case for the majority of the season. The former 2 time member of the All-Defensive team has been lacking in multiple areas of his game this season. The 31-year-old guard is averaging 11.3 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 3.7 assists per game in an average of 29.2 minutes per game, according to NBA.com. Bledsoe is also only averaging 0.7 steals a game and 0.3 blocks per game – significantly worse than what he has proven to be capable of in the past. The biggest issue with Bledsoe, however, is his apathy towards his poor performance. In the team’s recent blowout victory versus the shorthanded Lakers, Bledsoe went 1 for 8 from the field for a total of 2 points. During the nationally televised broadcast, former player Reggie Miller commented on Bledsoe’s performance by saying, “Look at [Bledsoe’s] body language, he doesn’t look interested.” Griffin needs to find a team to take Bledsoe before the trade deadline if the Pelicans are going to have any chance of a run.
The Lonzo Ball Dilemma
Lonzo Ball‘s name has been tossed around in various trade rumors for weeks, but Griffin would be making an unwise choice if he traded the young guard. Despite the fact that Ball said he wanted to remain in New Orleans with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, fans have appreciated Ball’s effort and improvement over the course of the season. Ball is averaging 14.2 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game and 5.6 assists per game, according to NBA.com. Ball has proven to be a playmaker that this team desperately needs, and trading him would be a large negative on the resume of David Griffin.
What Needs to be Done?
Veteran Guard JJ Redick has been rumored to be a candidate for a contract buyout, which can also be considered a negative for Griffin. Many analysts have pointed out that if Griffin establishes himself as someone who will buy out contracts, teams will be less willing to give up assets in trades for players that may be bought out. Instead of even getting a pick for Redick, Griffin and the Pelicans may find themselves empty handed in terms of Redick’s deal. David Griffin has many decisions to make about the future of the New Orleans Pelicans as they attempt to make a playoff push, and he needs to ensure he is making smart choices before he finds himself without a job next season.