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Report: Pelicans want to trade up to No. 2, 3 in Draft to pick Scoot Henderson

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David Aldridge talks about the impending free agency period and where stars like James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul may end up.

When healthy to start last season, the Pelicans looked like a playoff team and a potentially dangerous one with Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and solid role players. Then Zion got hurt, Ingram missed half the season with a toe injury, and the wheels came off in New Orleans. They couldn’t get past the surging Thunder in the play-in game.

New Orleans isn’t just running it back and hoping to stay healthy this time — they want to trade for the No. 2 or No. 3 pick and select Scoot Henderson, reports Shams Charania at The Athletic.

Rule No. 1 around the Draft is to take everything with a grain of salt. It’s no secret both Charlotte and Portland are open to deals to move their picks, but some of the buzz floating around the league was limited interest from teams to trade up for those picks. How serious is New Orleans’ interest, or is this just spin hoping to draw other interested teams out?

What would a trade look like? New Orleans has the No. 14 pick in this draft plus multiple future first-rounders they can throw in a deal (Lakers 2024, Bucks 2025 and 2027, plus their own), and they have young players such as Trey Murphy III and Herbert Jones that opposing teams likely would ask about.

The Blazers and Hornets will ask for Zion, and the Pelicans will instantly will say no. Then the sides will talk. What is impossible to judge from afar is if the Pelicans as an organization are over the Zion experience enough to trade him. If not, then the deal is dead — the potential of Zion may be too much or the Pelicans to walk away from yet. If New Orleans is ready to move on, maybe Portland or Charlotte could make an interesting offer. However, this would be a multiple-pick, multiple-player trade with a larger salary such as Terry Rozier or Gordon Hayward in the deal to balance the money.

If there is a pre-draft trade it will be with Charlotte — and that could bring Brandon Ingram into play (there is frustration with Ingram within the Pelicans, but would they want to commit to a Scott/Zion future?). The buzz around the league is Charlotte is leaning toward taking wing Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick, but if the Hornets want a wing to go next to LaMelo Ball, Ingram was a 24.7 point-a-game scorer last season who is a proven All-Star level player in the league when he can stay healthy. Ingram and the No. 14 pick would have to tempt Charlotte.

If Scoot falls to No. 3 in the Draft (and there is some buzz he could fall further than that), then a trade with Portland could come together on Draft night. Again Ingram could be in play as the Trail Blazers want stars to put next to Damian Lillard and form a playoff team. Trading for Ingram and re-signing Jerami Grant to go with Lillard makes Portland interesting.

Henderson is an explosive 6'2" point guard who played the last two seasons with the G-League Ignite and has the athleticism of a player who could be a No. 1 pick in most drafts (six months ago he was considered a lock at No. 2 behind Victor Wembanyama). His insane first step and ability to get to the rim and finish has drawn early Russell Westbrook comparisons, and is a force in transition. The concerns about his game start with his shot — 27.5% shooting from 3 this season in the G-League — and the question is how much his game will develop.

The other question is where he will be playing next season, which is also up in the air.