The Zion Williamson era with the New Orleans Pelicans may be over.
Zion Williamson was supposed to revolutionize the NBA. He was supposed to inject the New Orleans Pelicans with a much-needed jolt of energy. He was the player that was going to be the face of the franchise for many years to come. And, for the most part, when he was healthy and playing, he lived up to those lofty expectations.
When healthy, Zion is considered one of the most dominating forces in the league. When healthy, the Pelicans are a completely different team. He was a big reason why that at the near midway point of the season, the Pelicans were sitting atop the Western Conference standings.
However, the problem with all that is Zion is rarely healthy. In fact, Zion has missed 60 percent of the games he’s been eligible to play in with the Pelicans. Zion has only played more than 60 games in a season once in his career and has played less than 30 games in three of his four seasons with the Pelicans.
Zion Williamson may have played his last game with the New Orleans Pelicans
Couple Zion’s lack of availability with the questions about his commitment to the game (and some recent off-the-court drama) and you have a very flawed potential face of the franchise. Or, perhaps, not even one at all.
And this is the crossroad that the Pelicans find themselves in with Zion. And recent reporting, ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft, suggests that there’s a real possibility that the two could part ways soon.
Bill Simmons said in one of his most recent pods that there’s a sense around the league that the Pelicans could trade Zion before Thursday’s draft. If that is indeed so, it will not only send shockwaves across the league but would have a huge impact on the future of the Pelicans.
For as much as the Pelicans could seemingly get for Zion on the open market, even though his trade value has suffered for several reasons, this is a completely different team with him off the roster. Trading Zion would not only turn the page on the Zion era for the Pelicans but it would likely move the franchise two steps back in their build.
Short of acquiring another star-level player in the process, which seems unlikely, the Pelicans would not be a playoff team and would likely be starting over. And if that would happen, they’d have to think hard about moving Brandon Ingram and/or CJ McCollum next.
It’s easy to sit back and say the Pelicans should trade Zion. But it’s not as simple as just that.
There are huge repercussions that would follow if the team followed through with a Zion trade. Quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure this franchise is ready for that. Nevertheless, it seems as if there’s a good chance that the Zion era in New Orleans may be over.