Proposed 3-Team Deal Sees Nets Capitalize on Zion Williamson Trade Rumors

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Brooklyn Nets are in no hurry to get back into the star-chasing game but they could still get involved in one of the potential trades involving a star this offseason.

The New Orleans Pelicans have shown an interest in acquiring a top-three pick in the 2023 NBA Draft to land Overtime Elite point guard Scoot Henderson, per Shams Charania of The Athletics and Stadium. And Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin says they are looking to acquire some win-now help around Damian Lillard rather than trade him away.

That could create an opportunity for the Nets to benefit.

Nets get:

Anfernee Simons
Keon Johnson

Pelicans get:

Dorian Finney-Smith
Patty Mills
Royce O’Neale
– 2023 1st Rd Pick (No. 3 overall via POR)

Trail Blazers get:

Zion Williamson

“The Blazers face a dilemma with the No. 3 pick: trade it for veteran help…or pick somebody who can lead the franchise in the post-Dame era,” writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN, who proposed the deal on June 16. “Simons doesn’t make much sense for the Pelicans…so this construction flips him to Brooklyn as a lead playmaker in exchange for 3-and-D wings.”

Portland was rumored to have Nets swingman Mikal Bridges atop their wishlist, per Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report on May 29. But Brooklyn brass has made it clear they are not interested in dealing him away, per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic.

This gets the ultra-talented but oft-injured Williamson while the Nets build out a new core.

The Blazers have to add money – like sending Nassir Little’s $6.2 million salary to New Orleans – for this to work, per Spotrac’s Roster Manager tool.

Breaking Down The Potential Return

Simons, 24, averaged a career-high 21.1 points on 58.1% true shooting and hit 37.7% of his triples with 4.1 rebounds – also a career-high – and 2.6 assists. He is heading into the second year of a four-year, $100 million contract and has shown some of the same explosive scoring traits Lillard has.

But he is also showing budding chops as an on-ball defender.

Brooklyn would benefit greatly with Simons playing that kind of defense with Bridges and Cameron Johnson – assuming he re-signs this offseason – on the wings and then adding his scoring punch to the group.

Johnson, 21, was the No. 21 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft whom the Blazers acquired in the trade that sent Robert Covington and Norman Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers.

He is heading into the third year of his rookie deal after averaging 4.7/1.5/1.1 in 2022-23.

Simons in particular could fit what Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn already identified as a need for this offseason.

Nets Seeking Downhill Threat

During his postgame press conference after Game 4 of their first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 22, Vaughn listed a few things he will be looking to add this offseason.

Among them was a true downhill threat with Brooklyn’s roster currently featuring plenty of play finishers but few creators.

Simons could be that.

And, at the price of three players the Nets could be looking to move anyway, this be an even easier deal to agree to for them.

Finney-Smith, 30, has openly talked about possibly being traded this offseason while the Nets have already rejected multiple offers for both him and O’Neale, 30, perhaps for an opportunity such as this. Mills, 34, found himself only getting spot minutes this past season and has long been considered a potential trade candidate.

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