Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz named the Heat, in addition to the New York Knicks and the Oklahoma City Thunder, as three teams to watch if the Pelicans decide to part ways with the former No. 1 overall pick out of Duke.
As Swartz also noted, NBA reporter Marc Berman said on the October 5 episode of The Knicks Recap podcast that the Pelicans may want to move on from Williamson after the 2023-24 season. “New Orleans is still not sold on Zion Williamson. Obviously there’s a risk there, all eyes on him this season,” Berman noted.
Might the Heat be willing to pursue the big man if that’s the case?
Zion Williamson Has Suffered Injuries in Each of His NBA Seasons
“The Pelicans likely don’t want to trade Williamson,” Swartz wrote. “They want him to become the player whom they drafted, a high-flying, wrecking ball of a power forward who has the skills to lead the NBA in scoring. Few players boast Williamson’s sky-high potential, which is why New Orleans has been so patient with him through four injury-plagued years. Unfortunately, this franchise can only win a championship if Williamson is healthy or if he’s traded for additional pieces.”
Williamson played just 24 games as a rookie during the 2019-2020 season, missing significant time after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. His sophomore season in the NBA remains his best. Williamson played in 61 games and had career highs in points scored (27.0), rebounds (7.2) and field goal percentage (61.1%). A broken finger forced him to miss time at the end of his campaign that year.
He missed his entire third season after having surgery on his fractured right foot. He returned to action last year, and he looked to be back in top form. He played in 29 games and averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists, but he injured his right hamstring in early January, and it kept him out for the rest of the season.
The 2023-24 Season Will Be Huge for Zion Williamson
It’s clear Williamson is a difference-maker when he’s on the court, but his inability to stay healthy is a huge concern for the Pelicans and any team considering adding Zion. That’s why his health this coming season will be key.
“If Williamson doesn’t suit up in at least 50 games this year—he’s played more than 29 contests in only one of his first four seasons—New Orleans may have no choice but to explore the trade market, trying to salvage what’s left of his value and add to an otherwise talented, young-ish core,” Swartz noted.
“The s*** sucks. I don’t know how else to say it. The s*** sucks. I love this game,” Zion said about his frequent injuries in April of 2023, via Will Guillory of The Athletic. “For those people who think I just want to sit on the sideline just to sit over there, I don’t know why people think that. Nah, it sucks. I just want to be playing basketball.”
Williamson is off to a good start so far this preseason. He finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists in 16 minutes of action in the Pelicans’ season opening loss to the Orlando Magic. If he does stay healthy, it’s likely that New Orleans will keep him onboard. But in the event he becomes available, Miami has taken chances on players with unfulfilled potential before, and it could do it again.
We’ll see how the upcoming season unfolds first.