Are Zion Williamson And The Pelicans Staying In New Orleans?

Reports suggest that the player and team can depart the city.

Once upon a time when Tom Grieve was the Texas Rangers General Manager and Bobby Valentine was the team’s manager, the two decided to circulate a story about a possible trade that would take place when the pair were at the annual baseball meetings. They wanted to see how far sportswriters would go with the story. In their minds, it was a prank but it was something taken rather seriously by the scribes. Nothing came of it. It appears something like that is happening with the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Pelicans who will in no particular order see Zion Williamson bolt from the team and that will cause the team ownership, Gayle Benson and her family, to somehow sell off the team and the franchise will end up in either Seattle or Las Vegas. Williamson, who so far has been a major disappointment with the Pelicans, could become yet another star to depart New Orleans and that makes the franchise unattractive. There are also some other considerations. The Pelicans-Louisiana agreement to play in the New Orleans arena is done in two years and financially the New Orleans market has some difficulties. There are not many Fortune 1000 companies in southeast Louisiana or nearby Mississippi. The TV market is very small and there is a limited amount of money that can go into sports in the market and it has to be shared with the National Football League’s Saints. That franchise is also owned by Gayle Benson.

But there is some sort of succession plan in place following Gayle Benson’s death that will keep the team in New Orleans. But the scribes pushing the Williamson story have two possible destinations for the Pelicans franchise. Seattle or Las Vegas. Problem there. NBA owners can split up billions by expanding to those cities. Relocation won’t bring in that kind of money.

Evan Weiner’s books are available at iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/author/evan-weiner/id595575191  

Evan can be reached at evan_weiner@hotmail.com

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots as Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)