Pelicans acquire Valančiūnas and Graham in three-team trade with Grizzlies and Hornets

NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has completed a three-team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets. The Pelicans have acquired center Jonas Valančiūnas and the draft rights to 2021 first round pick Trey Murphy III (17th overall) and 2021 second round pick Brandon Boston (51st overall) from the Grizzlies. In exchange, New Orleans has conveyed center Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe, the draft rights to 2021 first round pick Ziaire Williams (10th overall) and 2021 second round pick Jared Butler (40th overall), and a protected 2022 first round pick to Memphis. Additionally, the Pelicans have acquired guard Devonte’ Graham from the Hornets in exchange for forward Wes Iwundu, a future protected first round draft pick and cash considerations. As part of the three-team deal, Memphis has traded the draft rights to Tyler Harvey, the 51st overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

“As we entered this offseason, we were intently focused upon improving our shooting, leadership and the overall fit of our roster,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin. “The players that are joining us today speak directly to those areas of concern. More importantly, their strength of character as men, and teammates that are eager to be part of our larger Pelicans family will be critical as we continue building towards sustainable success.”

Valančiūnas, 6-11, 265, appeared in 62 games (61 starts) for the Grizzlies during the 2020-21 season, averaging 17.1 points, a career-high 12.5 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in 28.3 minutes (career-high) per game while shooting a career-best 59.2 percent from the field. Drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors in the 2011 NBA Draft, the nine-year NBA veteran has appeared in 621 career games (592 starts) with Toronto and Memphis, averaging 12.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 25.6 minutes per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the field. Valančiūnas has also appeared in 48 career playoff games (41 starts) throughout his career, averaging 12.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per contest.

Graham, 6-1, 195, appeared in 55 games (44 starts) for the Hornets last season, averaging 14.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 30.2 minutes per game while shooting 37.5 percent from three-point range. Drafted 34th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft out of the University of Kansas, Graham has appeared in 164 career games over the last three seasons with Charlotte, averaging 13.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 27.7 minutes per game.

Murphy III, 6-8, 206, appeared in 25 games (20 starts) for the University of Virginia last season, averaging 11.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from three-point range. In his first two collegiate seasons at Rice University, Murphy III appeared in 61 games (25 starts) for the Owls and averaged 10.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game.

“Steven, Eric and Wes each had extremely positive impacts upon our team both on and off the floor last season under extremely difficult circumstances,” said Griffin. “Their passion and work ethic will be missed and wish them nothing but the greatest future success.”

Adams, 6-11, 265, who was originally acquired by the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a four-team trade on November 24, 2020, appeared in 58 games (all starts) last season in New Orleans, averaging 7.6 points and 8.9 rebounds in 27.7 minutes per game. The New Zealand native has appeared in 588 career games (524 starts) over eight seasons with Oklahoma City and New Orleans, averaging 9.6 points and 7.7 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game.

Bledsoe, 6-1, 214, who was originally acquired by the Pelicans from the Milwaukee Bucks in a four-team trade on November 24, 2020, appeared in 71 games (70 starts) for New Orleans last season, averaging 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 29.7 minutes per game. The 11-year NBA veteran has appeared in 702 career games (539 starts) with the LA Clippers, Phoenix, Milwaukee and New Orleans, holding averages of 14.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 28.0 minutes per game.

Iwundu, 6-6, 195, who was originally acquired by New Orleans from the Dallas Mavericks on March 26, 2021, appeared in 18 games (one start) for the Pelicans last season, averaging 2.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game. Iwundu has appeared in 223 career games (50 starts) over four seasons with Orlando, Dallas and New Orleans, averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game.