Scoot Henderson came into the season as a virtual lock to be selected No. 2 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, but after an uneven season playing for G-League Ignite and some unexpected movement on lottery night, his future isn't quite as clear. Alabama forward Brandon Miller has passed Henderson on some draft boards, and the teams picking No. 2 (Charlotte) and No. 3 (Portland) both have All-Star point guards in place. That has made Henderson one of the hottest names on the trade market leading into the draft, and one team has emerged as a possible suitor.
The New Orleans Pelicans are trying to trade up for the right to select Henderson, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The Pelicans have the No. 14 overall pick in this year's draft as well as a bevy of future selections accumulated across several blockbuster deals. However, if they want to move into the top three, there's another logical path for them to pursue.
The Pelicans are already roughly at the luxury tax line for next season. Their team salary could skyrocket in the coming seasons because they will soon have to pay youngsters Trey Murphy, Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones market-value deals. The Pelicans already have three players making max or near-max money (Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum), and they will also have to make decisions on veterans Jonas Valanciunas, Larry Nance Jr. and Josh Richardson in the near future.
In other words, it would behoove the Pelicans to turn one of those expensive veteran contracts into a cost-controlled rookie deal. Both the Hornets (considering Miller at No. 2) and the Blazers (reportedly eyeing veterans on the trade market) seem to covet a big-name wing. Might a swap of Ingram for Henderson make some sense to either of those teams? Possibly. Ingram is good enough already to help the Blazers win with Damian Lillard, but young enough at just 25 to give the Hornets a long-term co-star to LaMelo Ball.
Charania did not specify what New Orleans was willing to offer for the right to move up for Henderson, but historically speaking, volume packages are rarely enough to move into the top three. The Pelicans would have to give up a premium asset to do so. The two they have are Ingram and Williamson.