The New Orleans Pelicans are on the clock in their attempt to keep Zion Williamson for the long term. The NBA star isn’t particularly close to becoming a free agent, but rumors of Williamson potentially eyeing other destinations have already begun to bubble.

Williamson and his family have been frustrated with the direction of the organization, according to The Athletic. The report notes that some members of Willamson’s family want him on another team following months of dysfunction within the franchise.

Just because people close to Williamson want him to play elsewhere doesn’t mean the 20-year-old shares those same feelings. The former No. 1 overall draft pick is under team control for at least three more seasons, and there’s no indication that Williamson will be traded anytime soon.

But in today’s NBA, it’s never too early to wonder when a superstar might try to join another team.

New Orleans parted ways with head coach Stan Van Gundy, who seemingly failed to connect with the team’s players, including Williamson, during his one season leading the team. The Pelicans posted a 31-41 record, missing the 2021 NBA playoffs as the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference.

Williamson was irritated by the team’s decision to trade J.J. Redick in the middle of the season, The Athletic reports. Williamson wants the Pelicans to re-sign Lonzo Ball, who is headed for restricted free agency and could leave New Orleans for a team like the Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks.

In his second NBA season, Williamson became one of the league’s most productive offensive players. The former Duke star averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Williamson shot 61.1% from the field. 

Ball had a career year for the Pelicans, and Brandon Ingram added 23.8 points per game. It wasn’t enough to even get New Orleans into the league’s new play-in tournament.

As long as the Pelicans have trouble winning, there will be questions about Williamson’s future. Frustrated NBA superstars continue to demand trades, despite having multiple years left on their contract.

The chances are that Williamson will choose to stay in New Orleans for seasons. It would take an unprecedented decision for the All-Star to turn down his first contract extension. If Williamson stays healthy, the Pelicans could be allowed to make him a five-year extension worth north of $200 million.

New Orleans has already been spurned by Anthony Davis, who forced his way to the Los Angeles Lakers just as Williamson entered the league. There’s speculation that Williamson might want one day play for the Knicks, given his glowing comments about competing at Madison Square Garden.

Williamson has a $10.73 million salary for the 2021-2022 season and a $13.53 million club option for the 2022-2023 season. Williamson can either sign a new contract for the next season or take a one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2024.

Zion Williamson Ja Morant Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies stand on the court during a NBA game at Smoothie King Center on January 31, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images