Home / Sports / Is Zion Williamson coming back to Duke? The pelicans' gains give rise to speculation.

Is Zion Williamson coming back to Duke? The pelicans' gains give rise to speculation.

Duke's Zion Williamson arrives for the draw of the NBA. (Nuccio DiNuzzo / AP)

The lottery draw on Tuesday of the NBA produced a pretty staggering result when the New Orleans Pelicans had six chances to win and defeated six teams with a better chance of winning the first choice.

Williamson himself was perhaps shocked by the turn of events. It was not long before the rumors were based on a possible rumor that he was at risk of not starting his NBA career in New Orleans. The 18-year-old sensation has some options, including coming back to play another season for the Blue Devils.

Brian Windhorst on Wednesday pointed out that Williamson had still not hired an agent or signed a contract. This preserves his eligibility for the college as long as he withdraws his name from the draft application by June 10th, an early withdrawal deadline that comes 10 days before the project itself.

Windhorst said the subject of Williamson's potential mistrust of the Pelicans – especially after seeing the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers approaching the top of the line – has "exploded my phone since last night." .

After suggesting that Williamson "might threaten to return to Duke," Windhorst says, "Now, is this the kind of person that Sion is?" People I know who know him say no, that's not what he is. "Windhorst then added that" this is a conversation that is currently taking place in the NBA ".

This conversation may have been fueled by a tweet Tuesday by ESPN's Marc J. Spears, just after New Orleans won the lottery. Citing a source who said Williamson "wanted to go to New York," Spears tweeted that the AP year player at college basketball "was quickly chased out of the room after the pelicans were announced winner of the draw".

The footage highlighted Williamson's instant reaction to the results of the Internet lottery, and his wide-eyed smile reaction allowed for various interpretations. Was it a smile on his face, or more of a grimace?

"The Jump" host, Rachel Nichols, also commented on ESPN's live coverage of the lottery results and said Tuesday night that when Williamson learned that the Pelicans had won the first pick, he had "in somehow hit by a truck. She said that "when he wakes up this morning, New Orleans is not what he was thinking," but added that "once he returns to his state of mind Williamson would adopt a more optimistic view of things.

On "The Jump", Richard Jefferson mentioned Steve Francis, the Maryland star, who waited to be ranked second overall in 1999 by the Grizzlies before stating that he had no want to play for this team, then based in Vancouver. The Grizzlies then traded to the Houston Rockets before the start of his rookie season.

Dominique Wilkins acted the same way in 1982 after being ranked third overall by Utah Jazz, before being treated by the Atlanta Hawks. For Williamson, as predicted by the first choice, to let pelicans know before the draft that he did not want any part of it would be more unusual, but there is a precedent in other sports.

The NFL saw two highly touted quarterbacks, John Elway in 1983 and Eli Manning in 2004, clearly showing their dislike for teams with No. 1 picks. In both cases, however, they were still drafted by these teams before 39, be quickly exchanged.

In 1991, Eric Lindros of the NHL was also drafted n ° 1 by a team that he had warned, the Nordiques de Québec, who had initially refused to exchange it. He spent a season playing with his junior hockey club and Canada's national team at the 1992 Olympics before finally being shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers.

FS1 Colin Cowherd quoted these examples Wednesday saying that Williamson should tell the pelicans: "I withdraw my name from the draft, so exchange me". Cowherd suggested that if New Orleans did not comply with this rule, Williamson could wait to become the first choice. in 2020 and, in the meantime, ask if American team coach Gregg Popovich had an interest in adding him to this group.

Cowherd added that Duke's return would be a "step backward" for Williamson, but he thought the opportunities to play abroad or simply "train for a year" were plausible. The overseas option was used in 1989 by another Duke star, Danny Ferry, who was unhappy to have been ranked second in the overall standings by the Los Angeles Clippers. Ferry spent his rookie season in Italy, during which time he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

By eventually returning to Duke, Williamson would make a very bold decision that would cost him millions of dollars in the short term. In fact, he escaped much fright during his season with the Blue Devils. A knee injury, which he suffered after slipping on the ground, turned out to be much less serious than what had initially been feared.

Some thought Williamson should have taken into account the warning that an injury would represent and never play for Duke again, but he said he was eager to join his teammates for an NCAA tournament. Two of his closest teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, are also ready to become professionals. So they would not be here if Williamson came back.

For this reason, among others, it seems very unlikely that Williamson returns to Duke. Yet like the New York Times Marc Stein noted Wednesday, leaving open the option of doing so could give him an advantage with the Pelicans.

The Pélicans are already engaged in a fantastic adventure with Anthony Davis, a discontented star, who, one hopes, could perhaps convince to cancel his commercial request because of the tempting prospect of playing alongside Williamson. It is also possible that Williamson draws inspiration from Davis's misfortune in New Orleans and decides that he would also prefer to be elsewhere.

This dynamic could be good news for the Knicks, who have the worst record of the NBA and are overwhelmed by falling to third in the draft, but could end up with a crucial asset in a possible deal for Davis. If, as predicted already by many drafts, New York chooses Barrett, he could silence Williamson's close friend to the Pelicans, which will allow him to help his young rookie to feel better in his situation within the Big Easy .

Whatever happens to Williamson, Davis's destiny has been and will remain a hot topic until he is traded or signs an extension with the Pelicans, and that the landing of the first place only adds to to the plot. This is perhaps the most amazing result of the lottery: the Pelicans immediately became the most fascinating team in the league.

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