Pelicans Return To Relevance After Winning Lottery, Right To Draft Zion
The Pelicans are likely to land Zion Williamson in this year's NBA Draft after winning the No. 1 pick in last night's Lottery, and for a team that has "struggled to generate interest over the years," Williamson "should help solve that problem," according to Andrew Sharp of SI.com (5/14). THE ATHLETIC's William Guillory wrote Williamson will have a "shot at being one of the top jersey sellers in the league next year," while it is "almost guaranteed that every arena he plays in will be a packed house." Everyone around the basketball universe will be "dying to see if the NBA's latest phenom can live up to the hype." No franchise "needs that type of positive attention more than the Pelicans right now" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote with the Pelicans now having the first pick, "everything is revitalized." Wetzel: "Tickets will sell. Television will come" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/14).
GRIFFIN IN PRIME POSITION: ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps wrote Williamson's arrival should at least give new Pelicans Exec VP/Basketball Operations David Griffin a "plausible argument to sell that there's something worth building in New Orleans" (ESPN.com, 5/14). In New Orleans, Andrew Lopez writes the "opportunity to start fresh with Williamson should be a dream come true" for Griffin and the Pelicans' marketing staff (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/15). While many things still need to be figured out, primarily the immediate future of C Anthony Davis, it is "undeniable that the Pelicans -- from an organizational standpoint -- have never been stronger." Pelicans Owner Gayle Benson has "charged the newly hired Griffin with completely remaking the franchise's structure" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 5/15).
DAVIS THE BIG QUESTION: The Athletic's Shams Charania cited sources as saying that Davis' stance on wanting a trade from the Pelicans "has not changed" with the team winning the lottery (TWITTER.com, 5/14). The TIMES-PICAYUNE's Lopez writes Griffin has "yet to meet with Davis face-to-face, but that moment is coming soon." When he does, Griffin will "lay out his plan for the organization and try to convince Davis to sign a long-term extension" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/15). THE RINGER's Dan Devine notes Griffin now "finds himself in the catbird seat" in regards to Davis. It is possible that a "180-degree change in the franchise's fortunes can convince Davis to change his mind about the future" (THERINGER.com, 5/15). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Cohen & Beaton wrote a team built around Davis, Williamson and G Jrue Holiday "could easily contend in the Western Conference next season, which might be enough to convince" Davis to "stick around longer than he intended" (WSJ.com, 5/14).
BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT: In Baton Rouge, Scott Kushner writes the likely addition of Williamson "completely reshapes the Pelicans' image from a team of desperation into a team on the rise." In one night, the Pelicans "went from the butt of the joke to an envy of the league." Williamson represents one "lightning-fast turnaround for the Pelicans to sell the region and the nation on" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 5/15). In Chicago, Steve Greenberg writes the NBA is "going to have to get used to the Pels being relevant" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/15).