NBA Rumors: A surprising twist thrown into Zion Williamson's future with Pelicans

Zion Williamson's future with the New Orleans Pelicans may not be as certain as many seem to think.

New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

NBA Rumors: There's suddenly a surprising new twist that will add some doubt to Zion Williamson's future with the New Orleans Pelicans.

For as inconsistent as they have been so far this season, mostly due to battling early-season injuries, the New Orleans Pelicans find themselves within striking distance of a top 3 seed in the Western Conference standings. Despite their encouraging play since the middle of November, in which they've gone 13-6, the one downside to the season has been the situation that Zion Williamson has found himself in.

Zion has been fairly healthy this season, playing in 23 of a possible 29 games so far, but it's his overall production that is shooting warning signs in New Orleans. He's on pace to average career lows across the board and has clearly been a lesser player compared to each of his last two seasons with the team.

At the very least, the Pelicans have to be questioning whether Zion will ever be the face of their franchise - between his inconsistent production and his injury history. And there is one tidbit that recently became public that could throw a wrench in Zion's future with the Pelicans.

According to a report, a clause was recently triggered that makes Zion's final three years of his contract with the Pelicans no longer guaranteed. The reason is due to the fact that that he missed more than 22 games last season. In simpler terms, the Pelicans could waive Zion after next season (2024-25) without the cap penalties. His current contract runs through the 2027-28 season. The Pelicans waiving Zion is probably not happening but it could make it a bit easier to trade him.

How much could this impact Zion Williamson's future with the New Orleans Pelicans?

The difficulty for any team in trading for Zion is betting on his health. This clause could make it easier for a team trying to trade for Zion to pull the trigger. Again, whether or not the Pelicans would get to that point is unlikely but how much he's struggled this season, for his standards, makes it a tiny bit more plausible.

If nothing else, it's certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward. This may not be something that changes much for the Pelicans this season but if there's a disappointing end to the year for the team, this is perhaps a storyline that will reemerge during the offseason.

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At some point soon, the Pelicans are going to have to make a big decision on their future. For now, Zion appears to be a bit part of it. However, if there's anything we know about the NBA, it's that a lot can change in a very short time. The Pelicans are certainly a situation to watch over the next few months, into the offseason. And this recent factoid about Zion's contract adds to the intrigue.