Pelicans Will "Absolutely" Trade AD; Zion Not Going Back To Duke

The New Orleans Pelicans have moves to make, but Zion Williamson isn't going anywhere, The Athletic's Zach Harper says

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
May 16, 2019 - 8:25 am
Zion Williamson NBA Draft Lottery

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The New Orleans Pelicans were elated after winning the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday. Zion Williamson, meanwhile, looked a little less enthused.

“I don’t know how much gumbo he’s had in his life, but he didn’t seem thrilled,” The Athletic NBA writer Zach Harper said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It seemed like he wanted to go to Atlanta or New York. I don’t think New Orleans was truly on his mind. But I don’t buy this thing that he’s going to go back to Duke. I think it’s all smokescreens. I think it’s all leverage to try to make something happen with the Anthony Davis situation. I think he’s going to go there, I think he’s going to be fine, I think he’s going to dunk on someone within the first month of the season, and we’re all going to lose it.”

A potential front-court of Davis and Williamson is tantalizing, but Harper doesn’t see it happening. 

Under what scenario would Davis actually stay in New Orleans?

“LeBron James going there?” Harper said, laughing. “I don’t know, I think that well is poisoned. I really do. I don’t think there’s a recovery there. I don’t think there’s kissing and making up. I think he would play out the season there. I think he would do that. But I think once 2020 comes and July 1 hits, I think he’s gone. So if I’m New Orleans, I use as much of this smokescreen as possible to drive up the asking price and then he probably ends up in Boston or maybe New York or L.A. or wherever. But I don’t think he plays this next season with New Orleans.”

In fact, Harper said that the Pelicans will “absolutely” trade Davis this summer.

“They would be crazy not to,” he said. “There’s so much more flexibility in the summer with cap space, with expanded rosters, all the little CBA nuggets that can help you make deals a lot easier. Especially with Boston, Boston needs to be super aggressive, especially if they’re going to lose Kyrie Irving this summer – and it sounds like they’re going to. They have to go get that other star. I don’t think they can rely on Gordon Hayward based off what we saw. I don’t think you’re going to make Al Horford the best player on your team. It doesn’t seem like Jayson Tatum is ready to be a top-five, top-10 player. He’s only going into his third season. So you go out and you get AD. I think that’s going to be this version of the arms race with trading.”

Click below to listen to Harper’s interview in its entirety.