“They ruined everything in two years.” Generation Zion’s talent is in the worst place possible
The New Orleans Pelicans are the club that have had their worst offseason in the NBA. This is not just a subjective opinion. 10 anonymous league scouts took part in an ESPN poll. They were asked about the worst offseason transfer. All Pelicans moves and Demar DeRozan’s move to the Chicago Bulls tied for first place with 3 votes each. In addition, ESPN columnist Kevin Pelton gave New Orleans a two (on a five-point scale) for the offseason. All other Western Conference clubs received a higher grade.
Not so long ago it seemed that the Pelicans were the team with the brightest future in the league. New Orleans are lucky to get their first pick in the 2019 draft. It was in that year that the talent of a generation came to the league – heavy forward Zion Williamson. For two seasons with Zion as part of the club from Louisiana, he could not reach the playoffs. There was a leapfrog on the coaching bridge. Alvin Gentry was replaced by Stan van Gundy , who was replaced this summer by inexperienced 40-year-old Willie Green. It is hard to believe that after Green’s appointment, the Pelicans will make a breakthrough.
Around Zion, it was not possible to build an efficient team. Although there were prerequisites for this. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart are the players who joined the Pelicans following an Anthony Davis exchange deal with the Los Angeles Lakers . Ball is already in Chicago, Hart is not developing and is systematically regressing, Ingram’s game is stagnant.
General Manager David Griffin has received flattering accolades during his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yes, he had a hand in building a championship squad that beat the Golden State Warriors after a 1-3 gap in the 2016 finals and made three more season streaks. However, the lion’s share of the Cavaliers’ success belongs exclusively to LeBron James. As you know, the King not only shines on the floor, but is actually the general manager, his word is decisive when making moves on the transfer market. Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and others would hardly have achieved anything if LeBron had not been in Cleveland. A lot of players just wouldn’t come to play in Ohio.
At Pelicans, Griffin got a chance to fully prove his worth. The choice of Zion in the draft is a great luck, which is a sin not to take advantage of. The payment was not particularly clogged. Experienced point guard Jrue Holiday remained in the team , promising Ball, Hart and Ingram came from the Lakers. Qualified veterans JJ Redick and Derrick Favors have been signed up to help them .
The team was given the task of reaching the playoffs, but it was not completed. Zion missed half of the 2019/20 season due to injury, the regular season was interrupted for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this does not fully justify the failure. Even without Zion, the roster was quite competitive. Ingram especially stood out, recognized as the most progressive player in the NBA at the end of the season.
Gentry was fired and replaced by Van Gundy. It was not possible to keep the backbone. Jrue Holiday wanted to move to a more competitive team and was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Eric Bledsoe . The replacement is unequivocally unequal. New Orleans also received center Stephen Adams from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a four-way Holiday deal . The New Zealander was immediately given an inadequate $ 35 million two-year contract extension.
The 2020/2021 season under the leadership of van Gundy ended in complete failure. The players did not respect the new coach, in particular Zion and Ingram. Particularly unhappy was Redick, who made harsh accusations against the front office. JJ asked to exchange it or buy out the contract before the start of the 2020/2021 season. Griffin promised to do so, but did nothing.
“David Griffin did not keep his word. I don’t think you can get honesty out of these people. I doubt they can be trusted. It is unlikely that what happened to me is an isolated incident, ”said Redik.
The disgruntled Redick was still sent to the Dallas Mavericks before the deadline, but by that time, a decomposing non-working situation had been created in the organization. In the summer, personnel reshuffles continued. Bledsoe and Adams’ contracts are ballast contracts. Fortunately, the Pelicans managed to drop them off to the Memphis Grizzlies, who are very active in accepting bad pay in exchange for draft picks in the 2021 offseason. But what is the bottom line? Pelicans have definitely not become stronger compared to last season, and even weakened in two lines.
Last season: Stephen Adams, Jackson Hayes, Willie Hernangomes
This season: Jonas Valanciunas, Jackson Hayes, Willie Hernangomes
The front line is the only one in which the Pelicans did not sag. Valanciunas looks like an upgrade from Adams. Jonas, along with Ja Morant, dragged Memphis to the play-in last season. The Lithuanian is a classic center. As you know, players of this kind are losing relevance in the league. However, among his colleagues, Valanciunas is one of the best. Jonas will be the lead number five for the Pelicans.
Hayes is the 8th pick in the 2019 draft. Initially, his potential was not at the level of Zion, but still the guy got into the lottery and showed great promise. Jackson did not show any progress in two years in the league, but rather was remembered for the scandal when he resisted the Los Angeles police during his arrest for the threat of domestic violence. Hernangomez signed a three-year minimum wage contract renewal in the summer. The Spaniard is already 27 years old and one should not expect any accomplishments from him. Unremarkable backup option.
Last season: Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, Kyra Lewis Jr., Nikil Alexander Walker, JJ Redick, Sindarius Thornwell.
This season: Devonte Graham, Nikil Alexander-Walker, Kyra Lewis Jr., Trey Murphy III, Tomas Satoranski, Garrett Temple.
Ball and Bledsoe are gone, Satoranski and Graham are in – key changes in the baseline . Ball was traded to Chicago for Satoranski. Lonzo received a 4-year contract with the Bulls and $ 80 million. Tomas is finalizing the $ 10 million agreement and is unlikely to receive a comparable amount next summer. Ball is definitely a better quality number one than Satoranski.
Graham came from Charlotte Hornets, where he could not count on significant minutes against the background of competition with Lamelo Ball and Terry Rozier. The season before last, Graham averaged 18.2 points and was even listed as the shadow contender for the most progressive player. Then the award went to Ingram, with whom he will perform in the same club. In the 2020/2021 season, Graham passed in all key statistics categories. The 185cm point guard was selected in the second round of the 2018 draft. An ordinary middle peasant who does not pull on the role of the leading point guard of a team at the playoff level. Certainly no better than the departed Bledsoe.
Alexander-Walker, Lewis, Murphy will not have a significant impact on the site. The competition in the Western Conference is enormous. The Pelicans’ backline looks very weak compared to other clubs.
Last Season: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Nicolo Melly, James Johnson, Venyen Gabriel, Naji Marshall
This Season: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Herbert Jones, Didi Luzal, Naji Marshall
Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson
Zion and Ingram are the only players with stellar potential on the Pelicans roster. In the past season, they did not succeed in achieving anything. There was a lack of roleplaying support, coaching thought and proper work ethic in the team. Nothing has changed this summer. Josh Hart stopped developing. In the summer, he was given a $ 38 million contract (only $ 12 million guaranteed for the first year). Jones, Luzada and Marshall will certainly not help Zion and Brandon with anything.
The Pelicans squad has become weaker. All hope for the progress of Williamson and Ingram. The question is whether these guys want to develop in the Pelicans organization. Small Louisiana market, talentless management, lack of any prospects are obvious problems for New Orleans. In the summer, the Pelicans applied for the signing of experienced point guard Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul, but as expected, they remained in the span. Zeal Zion and Brandon such an outcome of the transfer campaign definitely did not add.
Ingram, who hated van Gundy the most, didn’t mind moving to the Miami Heat or another contender in the summer, but the deal could not be arranged. Bye. Williamson has long been wooed into the big New York City market. The Athletic recently reported that Williamson was also unhappy with Van Gundy and annoyed with Redick’s trade. Some members of Zion’s family would like to see him on another team. In a conversation with a source, Zion’s relatives expressed dissatisfaction with the work of New Orleans, hinting at the dysfunctional organization. They are convinced that the Pelicans do not live up to the standards of a star of the magnitude of Williamson.
Insider Ethan Strauss said the major portal ESPN is actually lobbying for Zion to move to the New York Knicks.
“I don’t like that the behind-the-scenes game is hidden from readers. For example, it just so happened that the agency Creative Arts Agency, where the current president of “Knicks” Leon Rose previously worked, suddenly introduces the key characters of the basketball department of ESPN, this is a completely shameless and clumsy idea.
The information is served to the consumer in such a way that the rising star Pelicans wants to play in New York. And you don’t have to know that ESPN wants to do this, because ESPN is Creative Arts Agency and vice versa, which means Creative Arts Agency is Knicks and Knicks is ESPN. Things like that affect the Pelicans’ failures, ”Strauss said.
“We destroyed everything in two years. Sooner or later, the Pelicans will lose Zion, “Agent John Koktostin said in a comment to The Ringer.
Zion is still a Pelicans player, but there is a real risk that he will issue an exchange request during the 2020/2021 season. A large market is too attractive. Generation Williamson’s talent has fallen into the worst possible spot in this regard. Louisiana is one of the most disadvantaged states in the United States. The only chance for Pelicans to keep a star of this caliber is to show results on the court. However, the likelihood that the team will be able to do this in the foreseeable future is close to zero.