Patrick Gorski - USA TODAY Sports

WWL's Strief, McAllister weigh in on Pelicans' NBA Draft bombshell

Mark Menard
May 15, 2019 - 1:26 am

In a turn of events that sent shockwaves through the NBA Tuesday night, rather than a team like the Knicks or Lakers reasserting their place in the Anthony Davis trade sweepstakes by scoring the top pick in the 2019 draft, it was the New Orleans Pelicans themselves who landed the coveted pole position, and with it, the right to draft 19-year-old basketball wunderkind Zion Williamson out of Duke.

The good fortune will mean a lot for pro hoops in the Big Easy. It might mean absolutely everything, whether it results in a haul of young talent to pair with Williamson through a Davis trade or perhaps even the chance to talk Davis into changing his mind and remaining in New Orleans for the long-term to play with Williamson himself.

Either way, a renewed wave of hope washed over the Crescent City last night, and it wasn't lost on the team that provides the radio call for Gayle Benson's other pro sports franchise. Saints Radio color analyst Deuce McAllister, an avid Pelicans fan, was rightfully fired up when reached for comment via text message Tuesday night.

"Wow," McAllister texted. "Talk about a turn of events for an organization. To land the 1st pick, man. Unreal.. You are happy for the fans that stuck with this team. You are happy for the sales team whose job was tough. A shot in the arm for a team, city and state. FLOCKUP."

As for McAllister's partner in the booth, Saints play-by-play announcer Zach Strief had an even more detailed response when reached for comment:

It’s really hard to even fully digest all the different ways the Pelicans literally hit the lottery.  To start the off-season the Pelicans made a near clairvoyant decision to bring in David Griffin the mastermind behind building a championship in Cleveland with Lebron James after an emotional split four years earlier.  Griffin has already convinced a superstar to come to a small market, and now he will try to convince one to stay.  The ONLY thing the Pelicans had going for them was the league’s best trading chip.  Just a few hours later, the Pelicans have the rights to the top recruit since the very superstar they will seek to retain.  More than anything, the Pelicans now have leverage and options.  There are several possibilities. 

  1. Trade Anthony Davis for either assets to pair with Zion Williamson, or one of the other top 3 picks to start an impressive foundation of young, cheap talent.
  2. Convince Anthony Davis to stay for the duration of Zion’s rookie contract, while retaining the talent already in house.
  3. Package any and all talent besides AD and Zion, to try and retain a third superstar.

Quite frankly, I’m probably missing a hundred options, but that’s the points.  The Pelicans are in position to make a splash this offseason in a way AD has been seeking since he resigned with them in 2015.  Possibly more importantly than all… the Pelicans have just become must-see entertainment.  For a team looking for a foothold in a football hungry city, a young man built more like a football player, may be just the ticket. 

The next big date for the Pelicans is June 20, when they can officially select Williamson in the NBA Draft, Then on July 1, free agency negotiations can begin. In a couple of months, New Orleans hoops fans could be staring at a shiny new playoff contender. It should be a fun summer.


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