What’s really crazy about this package is that the Oklahoma City Thunder send out four first-round picks, and still walk away with the most draft capital in the NBA at their disposal.
Still, it puts the New Orleans Pelicans in a close(er) second place. They’ve accumulated quite a collection of picks on their own. With this deal, they put themselves in an interesting position.
They should stay competitive. The same core group that will remain after this deal was good enough to make the playoffs in 2021-22. Fielding the same team, but four draft picks richer, isn’t a bad situation.
Interestingly, if Zion can get healthy, that’s the same position the Thunder should find themselves in after this trade. A core of Williamson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Josh Giddey ought to be enough to at least sniff the play-in tournament.
CJ McCollum was actually able to fill the point guard spot admirably for them for significant stretches of 2021-22. He’s generally a better player than Russell. Plus, the Wolves don’t need him anyway.
More importantly, Brandon Ingram would clearly be off the table for Russell. There’s really no need to elaborate on that.
This deal makes sense for all parties involved. The Hornets get the big man they desperately need. With Jaxson Hayes emerging as a high-quality player, he’s expendable to the Pelicans. Meanwhile, the Wolves don’t lose depth at the point guard spot and add a nice, versatile wing in Kelly Oubre Jr.
Granted, he’s a starting-caliber player who they won’t necessarily have a starting spot for. That’s perfectly fine. They can shift Edwards to his natural shooting guard spot and bring Beasley off the bench. They can designate Oubre as sixth man and have him back Edwards up, and play the four in ultra-small lineups. Adding him makes them a better, more versatile team.