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Pelicans expected to be "aggressive" this offseason, may look at playmaking guards

New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One

The Pelican's first official move of the offseason was to defer — they will not take the Lakers' 2024 first-round pick in the NBA draft, pushing that back to 2025.

Don't expect them to be quiet much longer — the Pelicans are expected to be aggressive in upgrading their roster this summer. Here's how Christian Clark put it at the Times-Picayune.

The Pelicans, who won 49 regular-season games last season, are expected to aggressively explore acquiring talent this summer as well. They control all of their own first-round picks. Additionally, they own the Lakers' 2025 unprotected first and the Milwaukee Bucks' 2027 unprotected first.

One of the things league sources expect the Pelicans to explore is trading Brandon Ingram. There remain questions about how well he fits with Zion Williamson (when both are healthy), New Orleans has quality wings on the roster in Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones, plus Ingram is in the final year of a contract paying him $36 million and the already expensive Pelicans aren't sure they want to pay his next contract (a max deal for Ingram would start at $52 million a season). Ingram averaged 20.8 points and 5.7 assists a game while shooting 35.5% from 3 this season.

If the Pelicans are going to trade him, it should be for a playmaking guard, Clark says in another story at NOLA.com.

The offense consistently has cratered when [Zion] Williamson is not available. That is why the Pelicans must get back in any Ingram trade a player who can complement Williamson offensively and can keep the offense afloat when Williamson isn't playing.

The Pelicans had contact with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks before the trade deadline in February. Expect those talks to resume this summer. The Cavaliers and Hawks have three All-Star guards between them in Darius Garland, Dejounte Murray and Trae Young who could be available.

If Donovan Mitchell signs a contract extension to stay in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are expected to test the market for Garland, as the Mitchell/Garland backcourt has never quite meshed. Atlanta tested the trade market for Young and Murray around the trade deadline but is expected to do so more seriously this summer as the team with the No. 1 pick reshapes its roster. There will be other guards on the market, too.

Clark is right, New Orleans could use a scoring, floor general kind of point guard (and that's not what CJ McCollum does). The challenge is a lot of teams are looking for players like that, and it will be a crowded market for the likes of Young/Murray/Garland, with playoff teams jumping in, hoping that is the final puzzle piece (hoping they find their Kyrie Irving like the Mavericks did). That means the trade price will be high, but the Pelicans have Ingram plus a lot of picks — including the 2025 Lakers pick — they can trade.

Expect the Pelicans to be aggressive and right in the middle of big deals this summer.