This is a huge offseason for the New Orleans Pelicans and Zion Williamson.
Constant circulating rumours of Zion Williamson‘s family’s unhappiness in New Orleans has raised the offseason stakes even more. After seeing Atlanta succeed with a young superstar, the onus is on New Orleans to build a roster much more suited to Williamson’s strengths. His quest for superstardom began in his sophomore year, and as he gets older and more experienced, the clock is ticking quickly. Here are some great free agents to pair with the dominant forward.
New Orleans Pelicans: Possible NBA free agents who fit with Zion Williamson
Kyle Lowry will have many suitors this off-season, all with title ambitions. The former NBA champion and all-star brings a variety of intangible and tangible skills to any team. Williamson and the other youngsters will reap the benefits of his championship pedigree with a charismatic leader and vocal presence.
His floor spacing and lethal catch-and-shoot three-point shooting make him an ideal backcourt partner with Lonzo Ball. Lowry will be able to share the point guard duties, similar to Jrue Holiday in his final year in New Orleans, and can provide an added defensive layer that Eric Bledsoe was supposed to bring. More than anything, Lowry is a proven winner. That winning mentality is one that the Pelicans player’s have lacked in past years. Having a vocal leader like Lowry, who also puts this mindset into practice on-court, is bound to inspire and invigorate the franchise.
This one would depend on the contract, as the Pelicans wouldn’t have the cap space for him unless they were to make additional moves or he was willing to sign a smaller deal.
Following his two all-star births, Victor Oladipo’s career has been continuously derailed by injuries. Since the 2018-19 season, Oladipo has only featured in 88 regular-season games for three different teams. Now, heading into free agency, the market could be barren or competitive for the 29-year-old shooting guard.
Signing Oladipo will purely be off past production and ‘what-if’ potential. Oladipo provides a dynamic two-way presence at his peak who can be an elite secondary ball-handler next to Ball and a terrific perimeter defender. A hypothetical two-way game with Williamson oozes potential as the penetration a healthy Oladipo gets is unlike any player currently on the roster.
In his first all-star season in Indiana, Oladipo averaged a staggering 10.8 drives per game on 52% shooting. The gravity created from this penetration will lead to countless putbacks and second-chance opportunities for Williamson. The market is going to be interesting. I would expect a deal of roughly $20m annually which would easily be absorbed if we were to move on from Bledsoe or Adams.
Lauri Markkanen’s tenure in Chicago seems all but Finnish(ed). Since his stunning sophomore year, when he seemed destined to be a multi-year all-star, Markkanen’s productivity dipped, leading to a career-worst season in which he was relegated to a bench role and posting a career-low in minutes, points and rebounds.
Looking to resuscitate his career, a stretch big like Markkanen would provide spacing and rebounding needed by New Orleans. Defensively, there may be many issues with Williamson as both players are awful shot blockers and paint protectors, but their games complement each other wonderfully on the offensive end. A lineup of Ball, Alexander-Walker, Ingram, Markkanen and Williamson would pose so many defensive nightmares and the space provided for Williams to operate would either result in open threes or post mismatches.
Also, a big man rotation of Markkanen, Adams/Hayes and Williamson all complement each other providing different looks and can play to each player’s strengths. There is plenty of intrigue with the Bulls big man, which will probably result in a market with teams looking for reclamation projects (similar to Orlando Magic), but the fit in New Orleans seems seamless.