William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic take stock of where things stand for the Pelicans entering 2023/24, with both writers noting that it will be a critical season for the organization.
New Orleans doesn’t have much choice but to see whether or not a core of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram can be successful together, according to Hollinger, despite the duo only playing 12 games together over the past two seasons. However, he would seriously consider trading one of them next summer if the team has another disappointing season.
As Guillory points out, the Pelicans will be facing salary cap difficulties in both the short and long term, so the pressure entering ’23/24 will be much higher than in previous years. Finding a replacement at center for Jonas Valanciunas, who is entering the final year of his contract, should be a priority going forward if the team doesn’t plan to retain him, according to both authors.
Here’s more on the Pelicans:
- Technology company Ankr PBC has filed a civil lawsuit against Williamson, his stepfather and his mother, writes Brett Martel of The Associated Press. The lawsuit alleges Williamson and his family failed to pay back $1.8MM of a $2MM loan. Ankr had hoped Williamson would be a spokesperson for the company, with his stepfather, Lee Anderson, serving as his representative during negotiations, per Martel. Anderson is the person who requested the loan a couple years ago, the lawsuit states.
- Jose Alvarado is still recovering from the stress reaction in his right tibia, which he sustained in February, and the injury will prevent him from representing Puerto Rico during the upcoming World Cup, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Pelicans sources tell Lopez that the move is precautionary, but it certainly seems somewhat problematic that a recent MRI indicated Alvarado’s tibia isn’t fully healed after five months. The point guard’s minimum-salary contract for 2023/24 is fully non-guaranteed, as we noted earlier today. That’s not to say he’s in any danger of being released — prior to going down with the leg injury, he was a regular part of the Pelicans’ rotation, averaging 9.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 21.5 minutes per night (61 games).
- Former lottery pick Kira Lewis remains a trade candidate worth monitoring, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who notes that dumping Lewis’ salary would take New Orleans out of luxury tax territory. The 22-year-old returned from a torn ACL last season, averaging 4.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in limited action (9.4 minutes per night in 25 games).