New Orleans Pelicans: Key Trades and Playoff Appearances
New Orleans Pelicans History and Highlights.
Established in 2002, the New Orleans Pelicans are one of the NBA‘s newest teams. They compete in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the NBA and play their home games at Smoothie King Center.
Founding and Early Years
New Orleans joined the league as the New Orleans Hornets as an expansion team in the 2002-03 season and made the Playoffs in their rookie season. Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn, PJ Brown, and Jamaal Magloire were the team’s top players who lost in the first round to the Miami Heat.
Before the following year, the New Orleans Pelicans drafted point guard Chris Paul, the best player in franchise history by this day.
Hurricane Katrina Forces Team to Relocate
Because of the catastrophic devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina upon the communities of southeastern Louisiana, the Hornets franchise temporarily relocated its base of operations to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 2005-06 and 2006-07, posting records of 38-44 and 39-43.
Return to New Orleans
The Hornets franchise returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007-08 season and were already a respected team by then. Paul was grown into one of the best point guards in the league, and with David West at the power forward position, New Orleans was a competitive team against anybody.
2008 and 2009 Back-to-Back Playoff Appearances
They made back-to-back Playoff appearances in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, the New Orleans Pelicans won their first playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks 4-1. They were close to a major success in the next round but fell short in seven games to the San Antonio Spurs.
The following season, New Orleans was back in the playoffs but lost in the opening round to the Denver Nuggets in five games.
After another early Playoff exit in 2011, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, Chris Paul decided to leave New Orleans and joined the Los Angeles Clippers.
The team didn’t wait long for the new franchise player as they selected Anthony Davis with the first overall pick at the 2012 NBA Draft.
Monty William’s Fired
Anthony Davis became one of the best young players in the league, but the New Orleans Pelicans waited until 2015 to get back to the Playoffs. The Golden State Warriors swept them in the opening round, which got coach Monty Williams fired.
The team management tried to surround Davis with as much talent as possible, hoping to sign him to a long-term deal. They acquired DeMarcus Cousins in a trade with the Sacramento Kings, trying to move Davis from the center position to his favorite, on power forward. The team also signed sharpshooter Nikola Mirotic.
The team’s improvement was evident as they swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2018 Playoffs before losing to the Warriors in the second round in five games. However, the team couldn’t do anything to keep Anthony Davis, and they made a deal to send him to the Lakers in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and future draft picks.
This trade gave the Pelicans a new identity, with Ingram taking the top scorer role, which brought him an All-Star selection.
The key moment in the Pelicans’ recent history was winning the Draft Lottery in 2019. With the first pick at the 2019 NBA Draft, they selected Zion Williamson, who many see as a future superstar.
Williamson had a slow career start mainly because of injuries that put him away from the entire 2021-22 season.
Another huge move for the Pelicans was the acquisition of CJ McCollum from the Blazers in the middle of the 2021-22 season. He made a huge difference right away, as the Pelicans were excellent in the second part of the season, securing the last place that led to the Playoffs.
Still, the Pelicans lost in the opening round but put up a respectable fight in the series against the Phoenix Suns in six games.