The NBA has no-chill lately and things keep escalating as we approach the offseason. In the latest report from The Athletic, the New Orleans Pelicans are apparently failing to make superstar PF Zion Williamson and his family happy, unable to put together the right elements around them. This report comes a day after the team dismissed head coach Stan Van Gundy after one season. There has been dysfunction within the franchise since drafting Williamson No. 1 overall and this will be his third coach in as many seasons.
The big issue appears to be with Williamson’s family. Obviously there will be a certain amount of influence on the star forward. With his family unhappy in New Orleans and with the direction the team is going, there’s belief that it may trickle down and affect Zion’s outlook on the future. This could end up leading to a rift and potential breakup, however NOLA does have Williamson under contract on his rookie deal for another three seasons. It’s difficult to believe the Pelicans would trade Zion before then, but we have seen players command a ton of power in the NBA. Williamson’s value is also at its peak.
This season, the Pelicans finished 31-41 and missed the play-in tournament in the West by 2.0 games behind the San Antonio Spurs. New Orleans had a chance at going for the playoffs but Zion injured his finger and didn’t finish the regular season. He averaged 27 points and 7.2 rebounds over 61 games, making his first All-Star appearance after missing most of his rookie season due to injury and the pandemic.
For now, the report says that Zion is focused on helping the Pelicans win. So it seems that the next head coach the team hires will be crucial for the Pelicans future with Williamson. We’re seeing now what it looks like when a superstar’s rookie contract is up with the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic. These stud players who qualify for the max early on have very little incentive to leave the team that drafted them. Because of this, there’s a very small chance the Pelicans trade Williamson before he enters RFA unless things get very bad. Chances are NOLA would sign Zion to a super max extension and then seek to trade him, a sign-and-trade, if he really wants out.