Pelicans finally make a trade, just not the one everyone expected

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/washington/" data-ylk="slk:Wizards">Wizards</a> dealt forward <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4894/" data-ylk="slk:Markieff Morris">Markieff Morris</a> to the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/new-orleans/" data-ylk="slk:Pelicans">Pelicans</a> in an effort to get under the luxury tax threshold. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
The Wizards dealt forward Markieff Morris to the Pelicans in an effort to get under the luxury tax threshold. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The New Orleans Pelicans have been at the center of the biggest trade deadline rumors after star Anthony Davis asked out in late January. Just over a week later, the Pelicans finally made a trade, but it didn’t involve Davis.

Instead, they helped the Washington Wizards get under the luxury tax threshold by dealing guard Wesley Johnson for forward Markieff Morris and a 2023 second-round draft pick.

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The players involved will not make much of an impact as neither the Pelicans nor Wizards are expecting to be close to playoff contention. Both Johnson, 31, and Morris, 29, are in the last year of their contracts, as well, so they will not be long for their new teams.

The key to this trade is that Morris makes nearly $2.5 million more than Johnson. The Wizards had been trying to get back under the luxury tax threshold, and after dealing Otto Porter Jr. to the Chicago Bulls earlier in the day, Washington appears to be in position to accomplish that goal.

For the cost of taking on a little more money, the Pelicans picked up a draft pick four years in the future. Dealing future draft picks has been commonplace for the Wizards, who will not own their second-round pick until at least 2024.

Morris could see considerable playing time in New Orleans if the Pelicans follow through on not playing Davis until he is traded, even if that lasts the rest of the season. The 6-foot-10 big man is averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 26 minutes this season for Washington.

Johnson, meanwhile, has only appeared in 26 games this year for the Pelicans. He is shooting 38.0 percent from beyond the arc in the 14.5 minutes per game when he has played.

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