Pelicans Rumors: NO 'Pulled Back' in Trade Talks Amid Zion Williamson's Return

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - AUGUST 25: Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry talks with Executive VP of Basketball Operations for the Pelicans David Griffin during the BIG3 playoffs at Smoothie King Center on August 25, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/BIG3 via Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The imminent debut of Zion Williamson has altered the New Orleans Pelicans' plans with the NBA trade deadline approaching Feb. 6. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday on SportsCenter the Pelicans have "really pulled back" in negotiations to see how the team performs with Williamson in the lineup.

The No. 1 overall pick is slated to suit up Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.

At 17-27, New Orleans sits 12th in the Western Conference, 3.5 games back of the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies. Coming into the season, the team had high hopes which took a significant hit when Williamson underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee.

As the Pelicans quickly sunk to the bottom of the West—and with Williamson's recovery taking longer than expected—the New York Times' Marc Stein reported in December the front office was at least warming to overtures for Jrue Holiday:

Should they want to become sellers at the deadline, the Pelicans have a few assets that would presumably warrant a nice return.

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Holiday's perimeter defending sets him apart from a number of point guards throughout the NBA and make him a valuable piece for any team with playoff ambitions. Derrick Favors, who's a free agent in the offseason, is averaging 9.8 points and 10.1 rebounds. JJ Redick is shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc, the second-best rate of his career.

Waiting a few days or weeks makes sense, though, since New Orleans could plausibly close the gap on the Grizzlies enough to think a playoff push is attainable.

Redick and Holiday are signed through next year as well—Holiday also has a $27.1 million player option for 2021-22. David Griffin, executive vice president of basketball operations, doesn't have to act now.

Anthony Davis' time in New Orleans showed how much front-office missteps can damage a team's postseason hopes despite the presence of an elite superstar. Griffin needs to see what the Pelicans do with a healthy Williamson in order to know the best way to build around him.