New Orleans Pelicans Rumors: 2 Players Who Won't Be Back Next Season

The season didn't exactly go as planned for the New Orleans Pelicans. But with Zion Williamson being counted on so heavily, it rarely does. The big man once again missed a large portion of the season, and the Pels are left to ponder their fortunes this summer. 

VP of basketball operations David Griffin said this week that they feel the team is very close to being really competitive, but they're still open to making some changes. "It’s tweaks more than it’s huge moves," he said. 

So that leaves us to ponder the tweaks. And with that, we consider that two free agents this summer could quite likely be on the road out of the Big Easy. Two players that very easily won't be back in 2023-24:

Jaxson Hayes

The former lottery pick (8th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft) fell out of favor this season in New Orleans. He recorded nearly as many DNP-CDs as games played. In the 47 contests he did get on the floor, he only averaged 13 minutes, 5.0 points and 2.8 rebounds—all career lows. 

Going into his age-23 season as an unrestricted free agent, he's bound to receive some offers that will promise him more playing time than he's been getting. And that'll be just fine for the Pelicans. 

Josh Richardson

This one's a bit more difficult to figure. The Pels brought in Richardson at the trade deadline, sending Devonte Graham and four second-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs. He contributed 7.5 points per game (which would be a career-low since his rookie season) though he did shoot it at a 38.4% mark from long distance. 

He's coming off an expiring $12.2M salary, and would likely be in line for much the same on the open market. 

As a classic 3-and-D wing known for his 6'10" wingspan and athleticism, he can certainly fill a need for a number of contenders who are looking for that type of role player, and he just might be more interested in going that route than staying in New Orleans with a team that still seems a bit farther away. 

Of course, we could also get a little more audacious and say that Zion Williamson won't be back—from the injured list—but that just wouldn't be fair...

 Photo: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports