Well as free agency gets closer and closer things just truly keep getting more interesting. First, there were rumblings of trade demands from certain stars after getting eliminated in the first round… Then, there was turmoil about Luka Doncic and the possibility of him leaving because there is so much tension between him and the front office, not to mention that the coach and GM stepped down. And now, news about the league's most up-and-coming star Zion Williamson came out that just shocked the league. It’s no secret that Zion Williamson hasn’t had the best start to his NBA career in general… From injuries, to not even making the playoffs in the first couple of years it has been a rollercoaster so far for Zion… And he made it clear that he wasn’t happy about his situation at all, and might just be the next disgruntled star in the league despite just being drafted in 2019. Today, we have to talk about the pelicans and the fact that they may be in big trouble with this Zion news about him possibly wanting out… Along with the top three Zion trades that would allow the Pelicans to not lose Zion for nothing, and what moves this team should make if they want to prevent all this and build a winning team around Williamson.
Back to the Pelicans though, because we have breaking news to talk about… Even though I don’t say that often this is truly one of those cases that could shake up the whole league not only right now, but in the future as well. Like I said Zion hasn’t had the best start to his career since being drafted to the Pelicans… But Even though this was a team with a lot of potential with the young core of Zion, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball, it was clear that they weren’t the best fit together and would need time to mesh if they wanted to become a great trio… At this point though with all the news that has been coming out, they might go their separate ways and leave the Pelicans in a very bad place. It was looking like in just a few years if this team was able to build around their young core they would be a contender, but now it’s clear that they went about their rebuild all wrong, and their first mistake was with the hiring of Stan Vangundy. It was clear that right after joining the team, Stan Vangundy just wasn’t the right coach for not only Zion but everyone else in this organization. Between the playstyle he preferred, communication in general, and other things along those lines Vangundy just never became liked by the staff and players… Now I know that the Pelicans just fired Vangundy, which seemed like it was bound to happen because of this season. But honestly, it’s looking like the damage has already been done for this team, and they might just pay the price for it very soon. What I mean by that is just a year ago the Pelicans young core made it clear that they were going to stick together and wanted to be teammates for a long time. Zion and Brandon Ingram talked about their great relationships with the trio in the JJ Redick podcast and the fact that they were in it for the long haul… yet here we are… Lonzo Ball didn’t sign a contract extension during the season and will enter the market as a free agent… And now Zion Williamson and his family aren’t happy with him being in New Orleans. Now I’m going to be honest here, in my eyes the odds of Zion Williamson requesting a trade at this point in his career is very small. I mean we just don’t see guys this young do something like this because they have only been on their teams for a short period of time… But there is a world in which Zion just doesn’t like the culture of the Pelicans and is already focussing on his legacy as opposed to getting his bag. For most young players, they aren’t even close to being in the same situation as Zion Williamson. Oftentimes when you have just entered the league you either don’t have room to demand a trade because of your skill, or you can’t afford to because you haven’t signed an extension yet. Well for Zion, it’s very different because not only has he solidified himself as one of the best rising stars under 22, but he also makes over 20 million dollars per year from endorsements… And 13 million of that is from the Jordan brand deal alone. With that being said Zion and his family are financially set for life, so with that out of the way now it’s just whatever is best for his legacy and happiness, and to say the least New Orleans isn’t where he wants to be. It was a confirmed report that Zions family wasn’t happy with Stan Vangundy and felt that he was too rigid and harsh of a coach, which although is funny coming from people who are now set for life is also fair because of the fact that Zion is a premier young talent in the league. Now even though most of the family's issues were with the coach which the Pelicans are solving right now, Zion also made it clear that he was not happy about how the Pels handled the JJ Redick situation. If you didn't know, the Pelicans told one of their veterans JJ Redick that he was going to be on the team for the whole year and he didn’t have to worry about getting traded… And at the deadline, well, they traded him to Dallas. Redick fumed about this on his podcast saying that it was the worst thing they could have done because when the chatter of him being traded started he also told them if they were to trade him he would prefer somewhere near his family in New York… And they sent him down to Texas. It was clear that the Pelicans front office had no regard for breaking promises, and I don’t blame them because in the end, it is a business, but when you backstab players in your business you’ll get burned eventually. I mean just think about it if you were Zion… you see this team promise they will keep someone, and then they trade him to a place where he didn’t want to go… I think that would incline any of us to get out of that situation so the same thing doesn’t happen to us.
So with that being said, even though Zion might not leave New Orleans soon, we just have to talk about the possible trade destinations for this generational talent, because this could shake up the league a lot more than people think. Keep in mind when making my top three destinations, it was in my opinion a compromise between the Pels and Zion, meaning that these top three teams have the assets to make the Pelicans somewhat happy, while also sending Zion to a team that he likes or would at least win with. So with that being said, you guys know that the number one team we have to start out with is the New York Knicks. I mean it seems obvious that this is the most likely and realistic trade for the Zion Williamson Sweepstakes. Zion already made it clear that he would like to play for this Knicks team someday because he loves the atmosphere of the garden, not to mention that this move would also reunite him with his former Duke teammate RJ Barrett and they could become one of the best young dynamic duos in the league and set the knicks up for tremendous success. Now we have to consider that Zion is a young star demanding a trade in this scenario, so first of all the Pelicans would be looking for young assets on cheap contracts back along with draft capital, and they would get a lot less for Zion than normal because they wouldn’t have as much leverage if Zion demands a trade and wants out because then teams will know that they have to trade him. Because of this, it will almost be like a draft-night swap, kind of like Luka Doncic and Trae young, except we have already seen that all these guys are good in the league, it’s more so the concept of a win-win trade for both teams. But with that being said the package for the Knicks would be an interesting one because in this deal the Pelicans would send off Zion Williamson and in return receive Immanuel Quickley, Obi Topin, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick from Dallas. This is about as win-win as it gets for both teams in the case that Zion demands a trade. The pelicans get great young talent in Quickley to replace Lonzo Ball, and Topin to be the new forward with this team along with draft capital, and they don’t lose Zion for nothing… For the Knicks, this deal would be well worth it and they would just be giving a small sample of their young talent and draft capital they have in exchange for a generational talent. This deal would pair RJ Barrett With Zion for the future, and although already having a forward in Julius Randle would make this a bit tricky there is no doubt in my mind they could form a lineup that would excel, and hey, all they would have to do in my eyes is run point zion and they’re good! Problem solved… Although losing their young assets and picks hurts, it would be foolish for this team to pass on Zion Williamson… Not to mention the Knicks making this move could also attract big free agents in future years which makes it even more worth their while…
But even though the Knicks were the obvious number one trade for Zion Williamson these next two might surprise you, but next we just have to talk about another young team that would definitely capitalize on the chance at getting Williamson… That team is the Atlanta Hawks led by Trae Young… Even though the Hawks are still in the playoffs against everyone's predictions I think it’s safe to say that they won’t win the finals, but will get fairly close if they beat the 76ers which will incline them to make one more move to make them a legit contender. With Trae Young showing that he can be the number one option for this team and is one of the best offensive players in the league when he doesn’t rely on that foul drawing garbage, it’s definitely clear now that this team will be building around him and trying to make him win, and honestly, there isn’t a better lob partner in the league right now to pair Trae with than Zion Williamson. We saw what Lonzo and Zion could do this season, and it was pretty crazy… So just imagine if the Hawks got him on their squad and formed one of the best young duos in the league. Trae with his outside game and Zion with his inside abilities would make this Hawks team even more feared in the east… And could maybe even set up this franchise for years of domination. This trade would be very similar to the Knicks trade… The Hawks would give up John Collins, Deandre Hunter, and picks if needed for Zion Williamson. This trade would also give the Pelicans great young talents in John Collins and Deandre Hunter. Hunter has shown that he can be one of the better defenders in the league when healthy, and John Collins could definitely become an even better player if given a bigger role. With Brandon Ingram and Zion rumors floating around this could be one of the two moves that the Pelicans make to get their forwards of the future… For the Hawks, they would get Zion who would be an amazing addition while keeping all of their shooters like Trae, Huerter, and Bogdanovich… Losing Deandre Hunter would hurt but they could easily draft or trade for a 3 and d wing defender that could complete this roster and make a truly scary team.
But if you thought those first two trades were crazy, this last one will truly shock you… Because even though most teams mentioned in Zion rumors are young ones, there is one contender looking for one more piece that has the assets to trade for Williamson… You guessed it, the Golden State Warriors… Let’s just get right into the package for this one because this in my books is the literal definition of a win-win trade. This one is, well a lot… But in this deal, the warriors would trade away Andrew Wiggins, Damien Lee, James Wiseman, and a first-round pick if needed in exchange for Zion Williamson and Steven Adams… Zion and Adams may not have worked for the Pelicans, but when paired with two of the best shooters of all time I think that would help the spacing in a big way. The Warriors need a win-now roster for the splash bros late prime, and they made it clear that they will trade Wiseman to get that… But in this trade, they would get what they need now and in the future. With Kelly Oubre, more than likely leaving this team needs a center and forward badly for their win-now roster, and with this trade, they would get just that. Steven Adams would be the perfect Andrew Bogut type big man that this team could use, and zion would be the cherry on top to make this team contenders once again… If the spacing wasn’t great, worst case they could run Adams off the bench and start looney, but in my eyes, it just wouldn’t be an issue. For the Pelicans they would get one of the most promising big men in the league along with a variety of talent in Wiggins and Lee along with a top pick this year to keep them somewhat winning and relevant.
Whether or not Zion demands a trade soon doesn’t matter, because the fact is if the Pelicans don’t make moves to better the team he will leave at some point, and it’s safe to say that all teams mentioned in this video could realistically have a shot at landing this once in a generation type player. I was going to include what moves the pelicans should make to try and save Zion but it’s looking like we won’t have time for that today, so let me know below if you guys want to see part two going over how they can build a roster to keep Zion content…
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