The New Orleans Pelicans pulled off the biggest move during the days approaching the trade deadline when they acquired All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to pair with franchise forward Anthony Davis.
Once the deal was complete, many were predicting that the Pelicans would easily claim the eighth seed in the Western Conference due to the pair of talented big men.
But with the season nearing its end, they currently sit six games behind from the final playoff spot and have only shown glimpses of the team many thought they could be. Their biggest deficiencies are showing more as the postseason ship sails further away.
By far the weakest link for the Pelicans is their awful bench production. After paying forward Solomon Hill $11 million, he has performed poorly for most of the season.
The closest thing to production outside of their starting five is E’Twaun Moore, who they brought in on an $8 million deal from the Chicago Bulls in the offseason. He is averaging nearly 10 points and just over two rebounds and assists on 45 percent shooting from the field and just under 40 percent from three.
To pair with the lackluster performances, they cut their best producer, forward Terrance Jones, earlier in the season. Jones was providing key minutes, normally in relief of Davis for much of the season.
The money that the Pelicans haven’t used up on ineffective role players like Hill and the even worse contract of Omer Asik, nearly $ 10 million for this season and the next while not playing in half of their games, will be spent on trying to retain their best players.
Starting guard Jrue Holiday is set for free agency this offseason, and New Orleans had very few options outside of overpaying the market value to keep him. When healthy, Holiday is a great player.
This season he has averaged 15.7 points, four rebounds and just over seven assists in the 73 games he has played this season.
Cousins is also looking for a pay raise and could jump ship soon to play for an actual contender. Meaning, the Pelicans will need to try and bring in affordable players that perform better than their current roster to keep him happy.
In order to free up cap space for the future, the Pelicans could try and shop Hill, Asik, or any other unfavorable contracts so they can sign more help. It would likely take some other assets to move those contracts, however.
As it stands, the Pelicans are not going to make the postseason and will likely remain ineffective unless they can shake up their lackluster reserves.
Their recent signing of Jordan Crawford is a good step towards the future, but they still have a lot of work to do.