Zion Williamson is the talk of the NBA right now. He still has not featured for the New Orleans Pelicans this year, and there is no timetable for his return. Recently, former teammate JJ Redick labeled him a “detached teammate”. All of this started to fuel some trade rumors around the young superstar and first pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. One team that might be involved in a possible trade could be the Brooklyn Nets. Here are two reasons why the Nets must trade for Zion Williamson this offseason.
Nets Zion Williamson Trade Breakdown
They could have a superstar team of the future
The Nets have a team to contend with right now. It is true that Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons are out, while Kyrie Irving can still only play away games, but they are still an immensely strong roster. In essence, KD has to be utilized as soon as possible for the Nets. He is 33 years old and playing incredible minutes, with a very long injury history. However, if the Nets want to contend past their Durant window, they will do everything to get Zion Williamson as soon as possible. With him, they will look great in the future.
Williamson, for all his injury trouble, is still only 21 years old. Due to some internal issues in New Orleans and silence from his camp, we cannot even justifiably say whether his injuries this year are really as serious, or there is a move that the player is hoping for in the future. If the Nets get him, he will pair up with a 25-year-old Ben Simmons and a rising rookie in Cam Thomas, who is just 20 years of age. They could be joined by the likes of Kyrie, who is just 29 right now, and guys like Kessler Edwards, a second-round prospect out of the 2021 NBA Draft who is playing some great basketball for the Nets.
Of course, while Edwards and Thomas could be rotational pieces, the creme of the crop would be the Simmons-Irving-Williamson trio. That would definitely constitute a smooth transition from Durant, who is probably going to play out this deal he recently extended with the Nets, and then probably retire, due to age and injuries. Of course, if Durant is still able to play, then the quartet of Durant joining the aforementioned trio, even in a limited role due to age, is mouth-watering to even think about.
Now, this is all hypothetical, and we have seen some supposed superteams fail in the past. The Nets had one very unsuccessful attempt at a superteam in the past, but this is different. Simmons is yet to reach his prime, and so is Zion, yet they both had some fantastic years in the league. Williamson was an All-Star in his lone full NBA year, while Simmons is going to be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, who can still facilitate and distribute the ball with the best of them. If they are surrounded by shooters, the Nets could have a title favorite on their hands.
There will never be an opportunity to snag such a good player for such a low price
The craziest thing about Zion Williamson and his situation is that if the Pelicans realize that everything is lost with him and that they need to trade him, they are going to get absolutely robbed. Right now, he has two years on his deal, and it is still his rookie scale contract, meaning that including this season, he is set to make just over $23 million over these two years. That makes it very easy for teams around the league to match salaries and the Nets, for instance, do not have to expand any of their veterans relevant for their squad to get Zion.
People tend to forget that the reason why the Warriors were able to sign Kevin Durant in the 2016-17 offseason was due to the cap rising but also due to team-friendly contracts for their superstars. If the Nets were to get Williamson, his salary in these two years would allow for some financial flexibility, especially if Kyrie Irving was to be part of that deal. That would be huge for them and it would mean that another young superstar or a deep bench of veterans could be, hypothetically, added to the team, solidifying their place as championship contenders.
Now, we have to add that with all the news around the league, the Pelicans are bleeding leverage. If they were to make Williamson publicly available, the Nets and any other team in the league would likely send offers that are not on par with the real potential of Williamson. The offers would be very low, probably around one or two first-round picks, some veterans, and potentially a young gun of some sort. The Pelicans could reject all offers, of course, and they can keep Williamson for as much as the next six years if they take his team option next year and then match an offer made by an opposing team. However, that would mean keeping a clearly unhappy player and then still losing him for free as soon as he has a chance to leave.
All in all, Zion Williamson is an amazing player with some issues regarding his franchise. If those are cleared up, he can be a future MVP in this league. One way to clear that up is for Williamson to be traded and the Nets need to snag this opportunity. If he becomes available and the Nets are out of the mix, they could lose their championship window in the next year. If they snag him, however, the Nets could be a contender for years and years to come.