AP Photo/David Zalubowski
The New Orleans Pelicans may not be the New Orleans Pelicans for much longer.
According to John Hollinger of The Athletic, the Pelicans are “the most likely team to seek relocation in the coming decade.”
The team’s lease in New Orleans only runs through 2024. Hollinger noted Pelicans governor Gayle Benson is “deeply connected to New Orleans and not currently seeking to sell, but losing money while finishing in the lottery has not been an enjoyable side venture to the main business of running the Saints.”
Frankly, it hasn’t been a banner week for the Pelicans.
First, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez reported the team fired head coach Stan Van Gundy after a single season. New Orleans went 31-41 under Van Gundy and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season despite having a talented roster featuring Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.
Then, Shams Charania, Joe Vardon and William Guillory of The Athletic reported some of Zion’s family members “want Williamson on another team.”
According to The Athletic, some teams are monitoring “Williamson’s family members’ thinly veiled unhappiness with the Pelicans and whether those feelings seeped into the player’s own views.”
Williamson is the current and future franchise cornerstone for the Pelicans, so losing him would be a significant blow and make the team less attractive for fans and sponsors in the New Orleans area.
For now, the Pelicans are a step behind many of the other Western Conference contenders despite the presence of Williamson and Ingram.
The former is preparing to play for a third head coach in his third NBA season, and discussions about whether the franchise will even stay in New Orleans won’t generate much of a sense of stability either.