What could Pelicans' spiraling mean for Knicks potential target Zion Williamson?

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Zion Williamson looks up with ball in hand
Zion Williamson looks up with ball in hand

The New Orleans Pelicans appear to be a spiraling franchise. As of Saturday morning, they have a league-worst 1-12 record, -145 point differential, and -10.7 net team rating. To make matters even worse, their VP of basketball ops David Griffin is reportedly on the hot seat, as a recent blowup with former coach Alvin Gentry made headlines.

So what does all of this mean for one-time Knicks target Zion Williamson?

The 21-year old suffered a broken right foot during the offseason and is apparently still ‘weeks away’ from his return to the court, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft also recently drew some criticism from Charles Barkley for appearing out of basketball shape while doing some on-court warmups earlier this month.

With all the turmoil in New Orleans, plus reports that Williamson has been unhappy with the team’s front office from the time he was drafted, could he eventually end up with the Knicks, the team that once appeared poised to draft him before falling to No. 3 in the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery?

On a recent episode of The Putback, SNY NBA Insider Ian Begley and Fox Sports’ Chris Brousard spoke about the possibility of Wiliamson one day ending up in New York, and while anything is possible, the thought of Williamson turning down a potential contract extension offer from the Pelicans seems like a stretch.

”People around some Knick players, even going back to the (2019) draft, kept whispering about ‘He wanted to be here. Just keep an eye on that situation down there. He really wanted to be here,’” Begley said. “Listen, I think it’s farfetched. No rookie is going turn down that money on that first big (contract extension offer).”

According to Broussard, Williamson signing an extension with New Orleans and then down the road demanding a trade is always a possibility, so the best bet for the Knicks would be to keep spending moderately, as they’ve been doing, to leave their options open.

“The thing for them to do is, as they’ve done, don’t spend too much money on good players but not great players,” said Broussard. “So leave yourself some flexibility in that regard, continue to build a winning culture on the court, in the locker room, and in the front office, and then take your best shot when free agency comes.”

Over his first two seasons, Williamson has appeared in 85 games, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game.