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The New Orleans Pelicans might be a late entrant into the Dejounte Murray sweepstakes.
Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported Wednesday the Pels and Atlanta Hawks “held tangible trade talks this week.” The conversations weren’t limited to focusing in Murray with the teams also discussing Hawks centers Onyeka Okongwu and Clint Capela.
Fischer cautioned that “there has been little traction on anything developing between Atlanta and New Orleans.”
Chris Haynes reported Tuesday for Bleacher Report that New Orleans was “in play” for Murray.
The 27-year-old would offer the Pelicans a more traditional point guard to run the offense. CJ McCollum, while effective, simply isn’t a natural facilitator. He’s not even the assist leader on the team, a title that belongs to Brandon Ingram.
When it comes to Okongwu and Capela, Fischer reported New Orleans has “been searching for rim-protecting big men for quite some time.” He cited two other targets, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Jarrett Allen and Orlando Magic’s Wendell Carter Jr., who are all but untouchable, leading the team to consider alternatives.
Considering the Hawks and Pelicans don’t appear to have made much progress, it’s tough to envision something coming together between now and Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline.
The Hawks don’t need to trade Murray right now since the four-year, $114.1 million contract with them hasn’t even started yet. Atlanta is probably never fully recouping what it gave up for the 6’5″ guard, but it doesn’t have to settle for the best offer out there just yet.
The same can be said for Okongwu, who also has a four-year deal that goes into effect in 2024-25. The cost to acquire the 23-year-old might be prohibitive, even amid a somewhat disappointing season from the 2020 first-round pick.
In the case of Capela, he’s averaging 11.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, but his 57.5 percent shooting clip is his lowest since his rookie year in 2014-15. The number of injuries he has picked up will be a concern for any interested suitors, and he’s currently sidelined because of a left adductor strain
Throw in his $20.6 million salary for this year and $22.3 million payout for next season, and it could be enough to dampen New Orleans’ enthusiasm.