With the NBA Finals winding down, the offseason is on the verge of heating up in the next few weeks. Most NBA teams are patiently waiting for their chance to make a splash move once the 2021-22 postseason officially ends.
The Pelicans are one team to keep an eye on as they prepare for the next phase in their development. Zion Williamson’s impending extension talks will be the No. 1 topic around the organization, but the club has some other major decisions to make once the draft and free agency come around.
Let’s start our preparation for the summer with some questions from our readers. Thanks to everyone who submitted. There were a lot of great ones to choose from, as usual — and stay tuned for Part 2 of this mailbag, which will be published Monday.
(Editor’s note: Questions have been lightly edited for clarity.)
What type of contract would you offer Zion? Would it be a Joel Embiid-type of deal that would give the Pelicans some protection due to Zion’s injury history, or a fully guaranteed contract if he balks? If Zion doesn’t want to accept below a max deal, what should the Pels’ next move be? Under any circumstances would you trade him? — Tee S.
Let’s start here: Trading Williamson at any point this summer shouldn’t be a part of this discussion.
He’s got a chance to be a generational offensive talent when healthy, and he’s said publicly he wants to sign a new deal to remain in New Orleans. Why be in a rush to get rid of that guy?
Once July 1 arrives, I expect the Pelicans to extend an offer to Williamson somewhere in the neighborhood of a five-year, $181 million max extension. I don’t expect that contract offer to be fully guaranteed. Though Williamson does have the potential to be special once he gets back on the court, offering him a fully guaranteed contract would be ignoring everything that’s happened over the past three seasons.