Per recent rumors, Zion Williamson doesn’t seem the slightest bit happy about his situation with New Orleans and could very well be moved this offseason for the right price. One of the teams that have been heavily rumored to be interested in his services is, of course, the New York Knicks.
The reason is that the Knicks made an extremely calculated move this season in an attempt to pry Williamson away from the Pelicans, and that was by grabbing Cam Reddish from Atlanta. Nothing is done by accident in this league.
Sure, you could view that as a way to keep the team’s budding superstar RJ Barrett happy, but I think the Knicks’ brass have some bigger fish to fry in the near future.
Just think about the marketability… having three collegiate superstars from one of the largest basketball programs, all playing under the bright lights in Madison Square Garden.
Everyone remembers Williamson gushing after playing his first game as a pro in MSG and the rumors have been flying since then. He’s discretely vocalized his disdain for the Pelicans organization without saying any words himself since he was drafted.
Should the New York Knicks make a trade for Zion Williamson?
Whether it be how New Orleans handled Williamson’s injuries during his rookie season by not letting him see the court, to this year where he took back control and basically refused to play due to ‘nagging injuries’. It doesn’t seem like he’s happy there and it’s becoming more and more obvious.
The clock is ticking for the Pelicans, as Williamson’s set to become a restricted free agent in July of 2023. At that point, he has two options.
The first option is that he can test free agency and New Orleans would have the right to match any offer that comes his way, but if he declines that offer from them, he could accept what’s called the qualifying offer for his fifth year with the team. After that, he’s a free man and they’d risk losing him for nothing.
The Pelicans look to be building their team as if Williamson won’t be a part of it moving forward already. Maybe they should just cut their losses and explore trades this summer instead of taking the risk of losing him for nothing in 2024.
In this example of what a potential trade would look like, New Orleans acquires Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley alongside a slew of first-round picks and a couple of swaps. In return, the Knicks get Williamson, Larry Nance Jr., and Garrett Temple.
The obvious move here is that New York needs to find a way to offload Randle’s contract. Aside from any personal reasons why Knicks fans would want to get rid of Randle, he and Williamson wouldn’t be able to co-exist on the court at the same time.
As of now, the Pelicans are deploying Herb Jones at the four-spot, so acquiring Randle would be an immediate upgrade.
New Orleans has been surviving without a true, pass-first point guard all year, so going into next season they could have a starting five that looks something like:
- Devonte’ Graham
- CJ McCollum
- Brandon Ingram
- Julius Randle
- Jonas Valanciunas
That isn’t too shabby if you ask me. Sure, they lack a true lead guard, but they make up for it with four guys on the floor at once who can handle the rock and facilitate.
On New York’s side of the deal, I’m sure they’d like to find alternative homes for Nance Jr. and Temple, as they wouldn’t exactly fit the timeline of this new-look Knicks roster.
Sure, losing Quickley would sting but the Knicks would have to break the bank and make the deal too good to pass up if they expect the Pelicans to move on from a generational talent like Williamson.
We could argue until the cows come home about the fit on the court between Barrett, Reddish, and Williamson, but one thing you can’t deny is that a Knicks roster sporting the three of them in the starting five is as ‘showtime’ as it gets.
Of course, this is just one example of several different trades these two teams could make that would land Williamson in The Mecca, but I believe something of this ilk would make the most sense for both sides.