Skip to main content

Matt Barnes explains it's “probably inevitable” that Zion Williamson leaves the Pelicans


“It's certainly something to keep their eye on.” That's how Woj summed up the reactions to Zion Williamson saying Madison Square Garden is, outside of New Orleans, his favorite place to play. That statement from Zion was all it took for everyone to start talking about yet another New Orleans superstar putting pressure on the organization to succeed. They lost Chris Paul, they lost Anthony Davis, and the clock on Zion Williamson is already ticking.

“These small market troubles will always loom over small-market teams. This is probably the inevitable ... I'm sure Pelicans fans hate to hear this, I hope he stays. But I don't see him ending his career in New Orleans.”

Matt Barnes, The Jump

Barnes explained small market teams never seem to make it "over the hump" if they are lucky enough to draft a generational player. The last team to do it was Milwaukee in 1971 with Kareem, and he still asked for a trade to a big market! The supermax the NBA introduced has mostly backfired. Small market teams aren't as profitable, so owners are reluctant to offer it unless they have an MVP on their team. But if they have an MVP, that guy can take the regular max from a large market team and make the difference in sponsorships and business deals off the court.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

The team that can give the Pelicans most hope actually is the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis staying was a major moment for all small-market teams, as the Bucks winning a title would create a modern precedent going forward. But we have to be honest here - you need to make the right moves to build a great team around your star, have injury luck, and most of all, be lucky enough to draft a superstar that doesn't crave the big city lights. Giannis stayed because all he wants to do is practice and spend time with his family. One of the main reasons the Antetokounmpos stayed in Milwaukee was the fact mama Antetokounmpo said she likes living there.

A similar story applies to Denver and Nikola Jokić. If he's not on the court, the Serbian superstar only wants to chill at home and read books about horses. For small-market teams, the odds are stacked against them because they have to do everything the big markets have to and then be fortunate enough to find a superstar that prefers privacy to IG followers.

But it's not all grim for small market teams. Giannis and Zion both have massive shoe deals, something that couldn't happen 10-20 years ago. Nowadays, they can make generational money playing in some of the smallest markets in the NBA. In the end, teams have 7 years with the guy they drafted. If they assemble a championship-level roster, their odds of keeping a superstar have never been better.

Isiah Thomas & Karl Malone

Isiah Thomas opens up about a surprising phone call he received from Karl Malone - "He almost started crying on the phone"

Isiah Thomas shares what happened when he got a surprising call from Karl Malone, who wanted to apologize for an incident that happened 30 years ago between the two legends

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson

"Then what happens? They’re gonna consider him a bust" — Vince Carter gave Zion Williamson helpful advice

Like Zion, Carter was also branded as primarily a dunker when he entered the league and everybody expected him to throw it down all the time.

Stone Cold Steve Austin celebrates with beer during WrestleMania in 2022 and LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009

"I've forgotten so many things but I remember that vividly" — Steve Austin on LeBron James taking photos of him via flip phone

Stone Cold didn't need to check his social media or the internet as he vividly remembers the King's support.

Michael Jordan in 2022 at the NBA 75th Anniversary Team induction ceremony

“You're a loser! You've always been a loser!” - how Michael Jordan trash-talked his teammate into retirement

When MJ said he doesn't care, he really meant it - even if his teammate once retired because of his cruel trash talk.

Kerry Kittles in 2021 at a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame press conference.

"Mostly they’re talking about scoring and scoring" — Kerry Kittles on today's NBA

Kerry Kittles doesn't like the lack of defense in today's game but admittedly would've loved to play in this era.

Former Kansas Jayhawks player Scot Pollard

“It’s a common expression here” - Scot Pollard revealed the code the Sacramento Kings used for too much dribbling

As it turned out, every single player on "The Greatest Show on the Court" Kings was about team basketball.