The New Orleans Pelicans are trying to focus on building their team through the 2023 NBA Draft, which begins with the first round next Thursday.
At the same time, though, they’re dealing with an offseason distraction caused by their star, Zion Williamson, who is facing a lot of heat from an ex-adult film actress who has aired out their personal business on social media after his girlfriend announced her pregnancy with him last week.
Could these two situations come together on draft night?
FanDuel TV’s Shams Charania said he’s hearing that the Pelicans want to move up from their current No. 14 pick in the Draft, and Williamson in a package might be thought about in the front office.
“They’re a team to really keep an eye on going into the Draft next Thursday,” he said. “I’m told they’re going after Scoot Henderson. They want Scoot Henderson in this draft. Right now, they’re at 14 — they’re not going to get him at 14. But when you look at the picks that it will take to get him, two or three — most likely the No. 2 slot.
“They’re having conversations with the Hornets I’m told about getting that No. 2 pick. The question is how does a trade work? Do the Pelicans look hard internally about moving Zion Williamson? Would they move Zion Williamson? Those are the big questions.”
After Victor Wembanyama gets selected first overall by the San Antonio Spurs, Henderson is expected to be the second overall pick after having a successful first season with the G-League Ignite.
He averaged 16.5 points over 19 games, with 6.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 42.9% from the field. As Charania said, he can do it all, whether he’s shooting, passing, driving to the basket or defending.
But is he worth the price of picks and Williamson?
Williamson, the first overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, has had injuries labor on his early NBA career. However, when he is on the court, he’s a problem for other teams.
He’s averaged 25.8 points with 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists over his career thus far. His explosive abilities on both ends of the court make him a matchup nightmare for teams because of his size and speed.
But he didn’t play the entire 2021 season because of a foot injury, and he had just 29 games played for the Pelicans last season with a hamstring ailment.
With the draft approaching, every team is going to have to think long and hard about potential moves on the board and the Pelicans want to get something done.
And it appears nothing, even trading a cornerstone piece, is off the table.