Now that the 2023 NBA season has come to a close with the crowning of Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, it’s time to switch into offseason mode. Over the next month, the draft, free agency and potential trades will significantly alter the league for the present and future.
It can be hard to keep track of everything that’s going on, so let us do that for you. Here are some of the latest, most interesting rumors from the ever-churning mill.
Rival execs keeping an eye on Williamson
The New Orleans Pelicans have the No. 14 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and are coming off a disappointing season in which they missed out on even the Play-In Tournament. As they look to continue this extended rebuild post-Anthony Davis, they have had discussions about trying to jump up and grab a top-three pick.
To do so, they would have to pay a significant price, and when you start putting the pieces together that means trading one of their key players. Could it be Zion Williamson? During an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Wednesday, Brian Windhorst noted that rival executives are monitoring the situation. To be clear, the Pelicans are not offering Williamson around or looking to trade him, but other teams are preparing for that possibility.
Even that is a somewhat significant turn of events for the former No. 1 overall pick, who was expected to be the face of the franchise when he entered the league in 2019. Since then, however, he has been beset by injuries and played just 114 games. Last season, he missed the final four months while dealing with a hamstring injury that took much longer than expected to fully heal.
He is a dazzling talent when he’s on the floor, and has top-10 potential, if not higher. But whether he’ll ever reach those levels on a consistent basis is a fair question to ask at this point, and you can at least understand why the Pelicans might someday want to move on and find a more reliable star.
Again, it seems unlikely that the Pelicans would pull the trigger on such a drastic move right now, but the Williamson situation will be one to monitor — not only ahead of the draft but next season as well.
Return for Beal in trade could underwhelm; Heat interested
The Washington Wizards made a big change upstairs earlier this offseason, hiring Michael Winger from the Los Angeles Clippers to be their new president, he was reportedly given the authority to begin a full rebuild. Whether he’ll do so remains to be seen, but such a path would likely include trading Bradley Beal.
Beal has a no-trade clause, however, meaning he would have to sign-off on any potential deal. Another complicating factor is his massive contract; he signed a five-year, $251M extension last year which runs through 2027 and made him the fourth-highest paid player in the league last season.
As a result, trading Beal at this point might not get the Wizards much of a return. During an appearance on ESPN’s “Keyshawn, J Will and Max,” Windhorst said that people will be “very surprised at the price and how potentially low it is going to be because his contract is not attractive.”
Windhorst also mentioned that the Miami Heat would be interested in acquiring Beal. They, of course, are coming off a surprise trip to the Finals, during which their offense sputtered due to the lack of a reliable third scorer behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.