Pelicans trade 24, 39, 42 in NBA draft, continue to horde assets; see updated war chest

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The New Orleans Pelicans continue to add draft capital.

On Wednesday, they selected R.J. Hampton, a 6-foot-5 guard who played last season in New Zealand, and then promptly traded him to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for a future first-round pick. That pick won’t convey until 2023, and is lottery-protected, according to ESPN.

Hampton, a 19-year-old Dallas, Texas native, will join a Nuggets team that is fresh off a run to the Western Conference Finals instead of the Pelicans, who are already stocked with backcourt players. 

On Monday, the Pelicans traded Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks for a package that included Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks and two picks swaps. The Pelicans own the rights to seven first-round picks from 2021-27.

With the 13th pick in Wednesday’s draft, the New Orleans Pelicans went with speed. In the lottery, they took Kira Lewis Jr., a lightning-quick…

Here’s the breakdown on those first-rounders:

2021: Own pick

2022: Own pick; Lakers’ unprotected pick (assuming Los Angeles pick doesn’t fall between Nos. 1-8 in 2021, a circumstance under which it would convey then)

2023: Own pick (option to swap with Lakers); Nuggets’ pick (lottery protected)

2024: Own pick (option to swap with Bucks); Lakers’ unprotected pick (option to defer until 2025)

2025: Own pick; Bucks’ unprotected pick

2026: Own pick (option to swap with Bucks)

2027: Own pick; Bucks’ unprotected pick

Those picks will allow New Orleans to keep adding pieces around franchise cornerstones Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram as they enter their primes. They also could be packaged to trade for the next star who becomes available. The Pelicans have a bevy of options.

What do you know about Kira Lewis Jr.? The New Orleans Pelicans nabbed the speedy Alabama point guard at No. 13 in the 2020 NBA draft.

New Orleans appears likely to make another trade before training camp opens Dec. 5. They are overloaded in the backcourt after adding Alabama speedster Kira Lewis Jr. to their roster with the 13th pick. They have Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Nickeil Alexander-Walker under contract next season. It would be a shock if all of those players are on the team when the season tips off Dec. 22.

Bledsoe and Hill were acquired from Milwaukee in the Holiday trade. Ball was acquired in the Anthony Davis deal last year.

The Pelicans had two second-round picks in Wednesday’s draft, but they traded those away as well. They sent Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes, whom they took 39th, to the Utah Jazz, and Kentucky big man Nick Richards, who went 42nd, to the Charlotte Hornets. Their return on both of those players is still unclear.

It’s official: With the Pelicans owning No. 24, get ready to welcome point guard RJ Hampton to … oh wait, he’s been traded to the Denver Nuggets.

The Pelicans added an interesting piece in Lewis through the draft, but there are still so many question marks that needed to be sorted out. Even though the start of training camp is roughly two weeks away, their roster seems far from finished. Free agency begins Friday. They still need a starting center.

One certainty is that they’ll have plenty of draft capital to use however they see fit for years to come.