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The New Orleans Pelicans moved franchise-icon Cheap Jrue Holiday Jersey to the Milwaukee Bucks in an offseason trade that brought back a haul.

Not only did the Pelicans get All-Defensive player Cheap Eric Bledsoe Jersey, but also a chest of future draft assets to be conveyed down the road.

RELATED STORY: Why the Giannis contract is good for the Pelicans
Yesterday it was announced via Shams Charania that Giannis signed a five-year supermax extension to stay with the Bucks:

Breaking: Giannis Antetokounmpo says he is signing a contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. The two-time MVP will sign a five-year, $228.2 million supermax extension with the franchise, the largest deal in NBA history, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 15, 2020

On one hand, this is good for the future of smaller market teams and the NBA, but on the other, it could be bad for the New Orleans Pelicans’ future draft picks.

New Orleans Pelicans: Giannis contract shouldn’t affect future Pelicans’ draft picks.
When news of the Giannis signing broke, Pelicans’ fans let out a collective sigh, as we were secretly hoping he would flee Milwaukee for greener pastures.

Why? The Pels have a load of future picks from the Bucks and if they don’t have Giannis, those could potentially be very valuable picks.

RELATED STORY: 5 overreactions to the 114-92 win over the Miami Heat
Now that they have Giannis, those picks are all going to be in the high 20’s right? Not necessarily.

The Pelicans don’t start conveying the Bucks’ picks until 2024 (the right to swap), one year before Giannis’ new contract expires.

If the Bucks haven’t won a title by then, there is every chance that Giannis’ next contract will be with another team. By 2024 the Bucks could be ready to trade Giannis and bottom out.

Even if that is not the case, the Pelicans will have their pick in 2025, another swap in 2026 and another unprotected pick in 2027, when Giannis will either be gone or at least over 30-years-old.

Of course, he could still be very good and may stay with the Bucks forever, in which case all of those picks could lose value.

David Griffin gambled smartly, as he prepared for the eventuality that Giannis would stay in Milwaukee, nabbing picks that should be far enough out for it not to matter.

Giannis’ signing could help the Pels with Cheap Zion Williamson Jersey, and it keeps him out of the West without affecting the picks too much, so this couldn’t have worked out much better for New Orleans.

When Zion Williamson told reporters about not having any sort of restrictions on him this season, he was happy. The smile on his face was bright and his happiness shined through on the video call last week.

After the New Orleans Pelicans’ 114-92 win over the Miami Heat in their preseason opener Monday night, it was clear that any restrictions were a thing of the past.

“It felt great to be out there for extended stretches,” said Williamson, who dealt with what the team dubbed “burst restrictions” last season. “It was great to experience that again.”

Williamson played 33 minutes, 13 seconds against the Heat, the third-most minutes he has played in an NBA game — preseason or otherwise.

“It was a different feeling. I can’t even lie,” Williamson said. “It was a different feeling for sure. I think I was only able to finish a game maybe three, maybe four times last year. But it was a great feeling. When the clock struck zero, I was almost like, ‘Wow, it’s been a while.'”

Williamson actually finished 11 of 24 games last season, but forgive him if his memory is a little hazy as the Pelicans won only three of the 11 he finished. Still, he rarely played for long stretches. That changed Monday. He played 10:19 in the first quarter, more than in any first quarter last season, according to ESPN Stats and Information. In fact, he played at least 10:19 in only three quarters total last season.

Williamson looked like his old self on the court as he finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. He had only two double-doubles in 24 regular-season games last season (he did have one in the preseason last year), and his 11 rebounds would have tied his career high.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said he was impressed with Williamson’s effort on the defensive glass, where he pulled down eight rebounds — which also would have been a career high.

“He hasn’t really been doing much of that in practice, to be honest, and it wasn’t a strength last year,” Van Gundy said. “For him to be able to rebound the ball the way he did on the defensive end was good.”

Van Gundy was also impressed with Williamson’s free throw shooting as he went 10-of-11 from the line. The only times last season when Williamson, a 64% free throw shooter, shot above 90% were when he hit his only attempt against Utah in the bubble and when he knocked down both attempts against Cleveland on Feb. 28.

“The free throws, I feel like I’m going to get fouled a lot,” Williamson said. “That’s free money. I gotta make that.”

Williamson worked this offseason with Pelicans assistant coach Fred Vinson, who was credited with helping Cheap Lonzo Ball Jersey and Cheap Brandon Ingram Jersey with their shot improvements.

“Me and Coach Vinson have been putting in a lot of work every day in practice, free throws, working on the jumper, working on everything involving my shot,” Williamson said. “That’s been really helpful up to this point.”

Williamson was sitting at 26 minutes when he checked out after the third quarter but came back to play the final 6:38 for Van Gundy, who said he wanted to get his starters about 30 minutes because they have only two preseason games.

Williamson has said how tough it was to play under restrictions last season. He said it was hard to get a rhythm going, so hitting the 33-minute mark Monday was something that felt right.

“That’s why I play basketball,” Williamson said, “to play a lot of minutes and help my team win.”

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