There’s almost no way Zion Williamson returns to Duke. Yet, in theory, it’s still a possibility.
Williamson became the story of college basketball as a freshman for the Blue Devils in 2018-19. He was almost unstoppable around the rim and also displayed an ability to create plays for himself as well as others.
The Pelicans entered the lottery Tuesday with a 6% chance at the No. 1 pick but surprisingly jumped all the way up to win the top selection. They’re now almost universally expected to take the former Duke star.
“It’s definitely a possibility,” Williamson told ESPN about being drafted by the Pelicans. “But, it’s not sure until it actually happens. … Whatever the team (that selects me) needs me to do, I’m going to be able to do it.”
The forward, however, was quickly taken out of the room after the Pelicans were announced as the lottery winner, according to ESPN. He was hoping the Knicks — who entered the day in a three-way tie with the top odds at the No. 1 pick — would end up with the selection, the report says.
New York finished with the third pick while the Lakers unexpectedly moved up to No. 4.
Zion Williamson was QUICKLY whisked out of the room after Pelicans were announced the winner of the draft lottery. Source said the former Duke star was rooting to go to New York, but now is going to New Orleans.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 15, 2019
ESPN’s report has led to speculation that Williamson is unhappy with the possibility of being drafted by New Orleans, especially given the uncertainty surrounding star forward Anthony Davis.
Williamson has yet to sign with an agent, according to multiple reports, including one from the New York Times, which means he still has the option to remove his name from the draft and play another season at Duke.
The Pelicans insist they are going to keep trying to convince Anthony Davis to stay. Zion Williamson has yet to sign with an NBA agent to theoretically leave open the possibility he returns to school. The Leverage Playoffs are underway, too
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 15, 2019
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday that Williamson considering returning to Duke is “a conversation that is happening in the NBA right now.”
“This is a topic that has been blowing up my phone from last night. If Zion, especially seeing how close New York and Los Angeles were, would Zion be content with taking this clear spot he is going to go to New Orleans? … He does have some options. I’m not saying he’s going to pick these options. But, he has not signed with an agent and he has not signed a shoe deal yet.”
But, Windhorst said the possibility of Williamson wearing a Blue Devils’ jersey again is extremely unlikely. He reported:
“He could threaten to go back to Duke, I’m not saying that he would go back to Duke, but he could threaten to go back to Duke. … Is that the kind of person that Zion is? The people that I know that know him say no, that this is not who he is.”
Williamson also appeared to acknowledge there was no way he’d think about playing in college again during an interview with Slam Magazine late last month.
“You get this college experience once,” Williamson said. “If you’re in a situation like mine, where you’re one and done, I’m just trying to make the most of what I got. I love Duke, and honestly, I don’t want to leave. If I didn’t have as much at stake, I probably would stay for another year. But I can’t.
“This was the best year of my life. So, if I could come back for a second year I would, but unfortunately that’s just not the reality we live in. The reality we live in is (that) my ultimate dream is the NBA. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about as a kid so I have to pursue that. And I have to take care of my family.”
Williamson has until May 29 to withdraw his name from the draft pool. But, if he did that, he’d be forgoing millions of guaranteed dollars — for at least one year — as the No. 1 pick in the draft typically receives a contract worth a little more than $8 million in his first NBA season, according to Forbes.
Williamson technically still has the option to play another season at Duke and avoid the Pelicans. But it would be shocking if his name was not called as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20.