The New Orleans Pelicans entered this season with the hope that 2022 would mark the year Zion Williamson became one of the league’s best players.
Sadly, a foot injury kept him out of action for the entirety of the team’s 2021-22 NBA campaign.
Although recent pictures seem to show Williamson in the best shape of his life, many still feel like the former Duke standout isn’t long for New Orleans.
This past week NBA insider Jordan Schultz appeared on ‘The Dan Patrick Show’ and suggested that a Williamson trade could be on the horizon.
“Just on the big picture here, I don’t know if Zion Williamson is gonna ever play for the Pelicans again,” he said. “He’s played 85 games in his career. If you don’t trade him this summer, what are you going to get for him long term? If you don’t believe he’s going to stay healthy, what are we talking about here? I think there is a very good chance he will not be back, and they will trade him this summer — or at least strongly explore trading him.”
While Williamson has obviously been prominently linked to one specific squad in the event of a trade, another interesting option has recently been presented by Vincent Frank of Sportsnaut: the Memphis Grizzlies.
In the proposed agreement, New Orleans would send Zion Williamson, Devonte’ Graham, Larry Nance Jr. to the Grizzlies in return for Jaren Jackson Jr., De’Anthony Melton, Ziaire Williams, a first-round pick.
For Memphis, the upside is clear – Williamson and Ja Morant could form a dangerous combination.
In New Orleans’ case, it would simply be an attempt to salvage Williamson’s value in the event that he opts to leave the organization anyway. And based on how things have gone up to this point, it’s safe to assume that there’s a decent chance he’ll go that route.
Jackson Jr., a dynamic rim-protector and intriguing offensive talent, may not be a superstar yet — but he has a ton of potential. And he could prove to be a better fit alongside Ingram than Williamson ever was.
Kenny Pickett’s girl has now weighed in on his tiny, tiny hands. https://t.co/Qe71kOB6n8
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 24, 2022
The Pelicans have Williamson locked up for one more year before he becomes a restricted free agent. Obviously they’ll likely match anything he is presented with, but given his injury history and questionable work ethic, it’s fair to wonder if perhaps this is the time to unload him. While the value is still there.
The next few months promise to be interesting. One way or another, an answer regarding how the Pelicans view Williamson and his place in the franchise should emerge sooner rather than later.