The New Orleans Pelicans are getting ready for Zion Williamson’s third year in the NBA and the young star forward will be going into it with his third head coach in as many years. After firing Stan Van Gundy after one season, Suns assistant Willie Green is expected to be named the new Pelicans head coach once the NBA Finals are over, and he will be tasked with figuring out how to bring Williamson and Brandon Ingram’s talents together to make a playoff push.
New Orleans is already feeling the pressure to build a contender around Zion, as there are already rumblings that those around Williamson are not pleased with how things have gone in his first two seasons. As such, this offseason represents a big one if they are to make roster upgrades to crack into the hotly contested playoff race in the Western Conference.
An upgrade at point guard seems to be at the top of the wishlist for the Pelicans, as they seem ready to let Lonzo Ball walk in restricted free agency. As for who they will be targeting to replace Ball, Marc Stein brings word that Kyle Lowry will be their top free agent target.
There is rising buzz New Orleans plans to enter the race for free agent-to-be Kyle Lowry, league sources say.
There will be several Lowry suitors but it's clear why the Pels, desperate to help Zion Williamson reach the playoffs, would want in.
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— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 19, 2021
Lowry would be a home run addition for the Pelicans, but it would almost have to happen in a sign-and-trade situation or by unloading either Eric Bledsoe or Steven Adams prior to a signing. The Pelicans will only have $15 million in space if they renounce all their cap holds and keep Adams and Bledsoe, which they very well could, and Lowry will command much more than that annually. The Pelicans do have plenty in the way of future picks (thanks to the Jrue Holiday trade) and salaries to make a sign-and-trade intriguing to the Raptors, but before any of that can be worked out, they’d have to get Lowry to want to join the squad.
That is a much taller order, as we know based on the teams the Raptors were discussing a Lowry deal with at the deadline that he’ll be looking for a chance to compete for another title. Convincing Lowry that they are just a player away from being a contender is going to be a tough sell, and while it makes all the sense in the world for New Orleans to make a strong push for Lowry, it’s a bit harder to see where the upside lies for the veteran guard in joining the Pelicans. Veteran stars are rarely all that excited about the prospects of playing with younger, unproven stars still finding their way, and while Zion is certainly special, Lowry’s window might not overlap with his and if other more apparent “win-now” teams come with a similar offer, it seems unlikely New Orleans will win that bidding war.