4 Zion Williamson trades the Pelicans should consider

Zion Williamson, James Harden (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson, James Harden (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Zion Williamson
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Pelicans want to move on from Zion Williamson, they might need to get creative. These four earth-shattering deals could work for everyone.

The Zion Williamson era has not gone according to plan for the New Orleans Pelicans. On the court, the former No. 1 overall pick has lived up to the superstar hype, averaging 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. Unfortunately, he has missed a staggering 194 games over the last four years.

There are two ways of viewing the past four seasons. Positively, Williamson has been phenomenal, statistically, and if healthy, he could help the Pelicans become legitimate title contenders. Negatively, he has missed more games than he has played, and he has a five-year, $197.2 million contract extension kicking in this season.

Without Williamson, the Pelicans are still able to remain competitive, posting a 25-28 record in his absence last season. They are clearly lacking a top-tier star, but the supporting cast is talented. Brandon Ingram is an All-Star. CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas are good veterans. Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones have developed into impactful two-way wings.

Right now, the 23-year-old still holds significant trade value, and if the Pelicans do not want to roll the dice, here are four potential trade offers for them to consider.

4. Zion Williamson for James Harden blockbuster

Daryl Morey is infamous for seeking star players in trades, but he is in a predicament with All-Star James Harden. Harden’s trade value is at an all-time low. He is 33 years old and on an expiring contract. More importantly, the Sixers hold little leverage in negotiations. The Los Angeles Clippers appear to be the only team with real interest and their best offer is likely Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Amir Coffey, and a first-round pick. That is not a bad return, but it does not give Morey another star to pair with reigning MVP Joel Embiid.

This deal would allow the Pelicans to move off Williamson’s five-year contract and gain significant draft capital to make a big move in the future. The Stepien Rule prevents the Sixers from sending out multiple first-round picks, but the first-round swaps are very valuable. Embiid’s future in Philadelphia is uncertain, and the Sixers could be a lottery team in the near future.

As for Harden, he could fit in nicely as a facilitator. Last season, his 10.7 assists per game led the NBA, and he could help elevate the supporting cast in New Orleans. Additionally, the front office could flip him to a third team for more assets.

Coincidentally, this deal mirrors the original Harden trade, in which Morey flipped Ben Simmons and multiple unprotected first-round picks for the veteran guard.