Zion Williamson Not Considering Return To Duke

Since the Pelicans landed the first overall pick in Tuesday night’s draft lottery, there has been speculation that top prospect Zion Williamson may not want to play in New Orleans. That idea has prompted reporters like ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link) and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) to point out that Williamson could technically decide to return to Duke before the NCAA’s May 29 withdrawal deadline for early entrants.

However, according to Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, that’s not a scenario that Zion’s camp is seriously weighing.

As Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com relays (via Twitter), Anderson said today in a radio appearance in Baton Rouge that Williamson is “excited about the prospect of getting down there and getting settled” in New Orleans, adding that returning to Duke “is not something that we have even considered.”

The idea of Williamson withdrawing from the draft, spending another season with the Blue Devils, and entering the 2020 draft always seemed highly unlikely. The No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft projects to earn over $9.7MM in his rookie year, so the Duke forward would have had to pass up on that salary to play for free in college for another year. It also would’ve pushed his first big NBA free agent payday back by a year.

Beyond the money aspect, there’s also no guarantee that the team landing the No. 1 pick in 2020 would be any more favorable. While New Orleans is considered a small market by NBA standards, there are certainly worse places to live and worse places to play — with Jrue Holiday under contract and a trade haul for Anthony Davis possibly on the way, it’s not as if the Pelicans’ cupboards are bare.

On top of all that, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that Williamson had a positive meeting with the Pelicans this week in Chicago at the draft combine. Prior to the lottery, Zion had cited New Orleans as one of his preferred landing spots, according to Charania, who adds that the youngster also met with the Grizzlies in Chicago.

We won’t have a clear picture of which NCAA prospects are remaining in the draft until after May 29, and the full early entry list won’t be officially announced until after the NBA’s own withdrawal deadline of June 10, but it seems pretty safe at this point to say that Williamson won’t be among those prospects pulling out of the 2019 draft pool.

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44 thoughts on “Zion Williamson Not Considering Return To Duke

  1. tharrie0820

    Why wouldn’t someone want to be in New Orleans? Cajun food is literally the best thing in the history of mankind and nothing else even comes close to coming close

    • ffjsisk

      Cajun food is definitely worth the high risk of getting murdered #choppercity

    • Reflect

      New Orleans has some great activities for adults too. Not sure what the rules are on this website so I wont go into detail, but if a man wants to have fun, New Orleans is a solid place.

      It’s no New York, but it also ain’t no Utah, Memphis, Charlotte, Oklahoma, Indiana, San Antonio, Sacramento, Minnesota, or Washington DC

    • dimitrios in la

      I think most professional athletes choose their teams based on the food the cities they’re in have on offer.

  2. clubberlang

    The media markets want Zion on a large Market team. They hated Lebron going to the Cavs. It’s not like LA and NY are better run than NO. They are a joke. Why on earth would someone risk all that money? He could get injured playing in College or the National for nothing.

    • imindless

      You obviously have seen how pelicans run the team. The logo is beyond terrible, as a player its all about brand recognition. Lakers 2 chips less than 8/9 years ago and 5 within the last 19. Poorly run? Think not they probably have 16 more chips that your team has lol

      • Michael Chaney

        You can’t look at what the Lakers have done the past few seasons and think there’s any way that they’re actually run well. Those championships are definitely nice, but pro sports are a “what have you done for me lately?” business and lately they haven’t done much.

        • imindless

          Except adding the best player since jordan and playing with him for 1 season. Nice take

          • Michael Chaney

            Well they didn’t make the playoffs and they don’t seem to have much of a plan in the front office or the coaching staff. Nice take

          • Dodgethis

            LOL. Lakers are a garbage organization who rely on their long past history. They blew it with drafting ball and Ingram, they gave their city rival a promising young center for no reason, they signed an incredibly overrated league manufactured star in queen James, they can’t convince any real all stars to join up, the owners had a public battle for control, magic freaking Johnson said you guys are whack and left. Nobody worth a damn wants anything to do with the Lakers. The clippers have become LA team, and that’s sad. Not to mention, how many lakes are in LA? Since you want to hate on logos….

      • snotrocket

        This might be the worst take I’ve seen on this site, and that’s really saying something.

      • knickscavsfan

        With Dr. Buss (79-2013): 7 coaches and 16 finals appearances.

        After Buss (13-present): 6 coaches and no playoff appearances, let alone no finals appearances.

        People blame LBJ for Laker’s inability to lure star free agents but he’s been there for 1 season. Laker’s haven’t had a star FA sign with them (other than LBJ and returning players) since Shaq.

        • imindless

          How many teams over the course of the nba have lured hof talents from there respective teams? Not many. The fact lakers got shaq in fa is as crazy as it gets and had magic offered more he would have stayed. So if that by your standards is the hall mark only a handful of teams have done this in recent years. Kevin durant to gsw the biggest to date. People like to condemn the lakers because they win so often. Jeanie has had the team 2 years and is now the worst person to run a team? Chill they only just got lebron and got rid of a terrible coach hired under jim buss. Until jeanie turns into james dolan i think ill pass judgement.

          • knickscavsfan

            What are you talking about?

            LBJ wouldn’t even meet with the Lakers the 1st time. Lemarcus Aldridge wouldn’t even give them a meeting. Paul George choose OKC over his home town team.

            OKC-Paul George
            GSW-Durant and Cousins
            Houston-Chris Paul, Clint Capela

            • imindless

              Pg was traded to okc and resigned lmao. Aldridge gave them 2 meetings. Are you challenged? They just got lebron lol go away troll

              • knickscavsfan

                Who’s the idiot? PG made it clear BEFORE being traded to OKC that he wanted to play for the Lakers and made it clear that “buyer beware” he probably would NOT resign to any other team that traded for him outside of the Lakers and to a lesser extent, the Clippers. So while he was traded to OKC he became a free agent at the end of his 1st season and rather than sign with the Lakers, he choose to stay in OKC. Who’s the idiot now chump.

                I may have confused the Lakers with my Knicks as far as the team he turned down to meet with but :

                “LaMarcus Aldridge will not sign with the Lakers because he was unimpressed by their Tuesday night presentation, according to a person familiar with the situation.

                He met with them the moment free agency began, considered them part of a “two-horse race” with the San Antonio Spurs and “wanted to be wowed” but was actually turned off by the lack of analytics on the basketball side of their pitch, the person added.”

                Rather than taking me to task about who DIDN’T sign with the Lakers the easier question that needs little pondering is, who HAS signed with the Lakers in between Shaq and LBJ?

                The fact that the two biggest historical teams in the two biggest media markets, Lakers and Knicks, are being turned down by FAs says a lot about what current stars value in perspective teams they join.

                • Dodgethis

                  Knicks aren’t a historical team, unless you’re talking about being historically bad.

          • knickscavsfan

            I don’t think Jenny is a bad owner I just think she defers and listens to the wrong people.

            She’s allowed factions to foster and relies on too many ex-Lakers.

            Rambis and his wife
            Phil Jackson

            • agentx

              I hadn’t realized that Kurt Rambis and Phil Jackson got married. /j

  3. NO is not a bad team to go to. They have a good head coach and some good players instead of going to a very bad team. Next year who knows where he will go if he entered the draft. If they trade davis and bring in some great player they could build a power house team.

  4. hiflew

    I’m not going to shed tears for the guy that is going to get paid almost $10 million to work about 82 days next year. Who are we kidding, they don’t even have to play every game now? More like 75 days.

  5. snotrocket

    I’ve been to NO a few times and it’s a blast. Basketball journalist have an agenda against smaller markets. Basketball journalists are scum of the earth.

  6. Havlicek stole the ball

    Take it easy kid, four years of playing where you HAVE to, sooner or later you’ll play where you WANT to. So far I like his reaction, it’s not like Steve Francis’s face when the Vancouver Grizzlies drafted him

  7. Skip, Tampa

    So he doesn’t want to play for the Pelicans. Not a big deal really.
    Griffin will just do what he did with the Love / Wiggins trade.
    Ball, Kuzma, 2019 #4 for Williamson.
    Ball for Dunn, 2019 1st-Bulls
    Knox, Smith, Robinson, 2019 #3, 2021 1st for Davis.
    Smiles all around for everyone.

    • knickscavsfan

      I would take Ball, Kouzma and the Laker’s pick and then flip Ball to perhaps the Suns or the Hawks (they have the 8th and 10th picks) and maybe Kouzma for some picks. Wouldn’t be the worse to keep Ball tho to play along with Zion, Randle, Holiday. A lot of good options.

  8. It was irresponsible and self-serving for reporters to bring this up, implying that he skipped on draft night because he was disappointed in his destination, when it was just as likely he didn’t want to answer their dumb questions about AD perhaps staying because of him.

  9. knickscavsfan

    Unfortunately, just like cable news’ opinionated “journalists”, people have a hard time making the distinction between factual reporting using credible sources vs a talk show host posing an opinion or offering a possible scenario to get clicks or to create a 15 minute topical conversation.

    Never, ever, ever did anyone say that Zion or “his team” mentioned or were considering returning back to Duke because he was unhappy with the likelihood of being drafted by the Pelicans. I’m sure he’s being advised, but he has yet to sign an agent so his “team” is really just his family.

    The first host I heard propose the possibility of returning to Duke was Colin Cowherd. I like Colin but he has an obvious bias against small market teams and teams that have struggled to be relevant.

    Zion is being perceived by some commentors to have preferred to be drafted by a NY team and doesn’t want to be there. NOT FACTUALLY SUPPORTED.
    I’ve heard some comment as if he’s some jerk kid worried about his brand. Smh.

    To be honest, the Pelicans have more talent to surround Zion then most of the teams in the draft. They have Davis or whatever they can get in a trade for him. Likely a top 4 prospect. They also have Randle, Holiday, etc. The Knicks are HOPING to get Irving and/or Durant but it’s not a foregone conclusion.

    I also have a problem with the perception of the Pelican’s inability to surround Davis with a good supporting cast. Ummm….2 seasons ago they traded for Cousins and also had Holiday, Mirotic, Rondo, etc. This past season they added Julius Randle who along with Davis and Holiday gave the team three 20 + per game scorers. It didn’t gel well enough to comprise a winner but I would suggest they’ve outperformed the front office of the Knicks and I’m a long-suffering Knick fan.

    The media can create any scenario they wish just by offering up scenarios which may or may not be based off of a source. In this case, it was just a suggestion made by a media talking head. Shameful.

    • imindless

      This aint it. As long as this franchise has been in existence it has hovered in between mediocrity and down right terrible. As a great player one has to expect to go to a bad team but one in which you can at least build yourself up as a brand name and earn more for their families. Wasting your best years because no one wants to go to a hole like new orleans with little to no visibility from outside world. Even if knicks still didnt win the amount of attention and revenue he would bring in would be much higher than with the pelicans. Hes already seen what they have done with ad in 7 wasted years, you can expect zion to do the same in 4/5.

      Randle performed decently on a bad team in which he received more minutes and time on the court than he did with lakers. Also he probably wont be back if pelicans select zion.

      • knickscavsfan

        You really view this in a small minded way. I lived in NYC, Cleveland and Miami. So I know the difference between large, medium and small markets. Zion is likely going to be the most watched player in the NBA much like….ummmm…..Lebron James….who ummmm… played where? Cleveland, OH which is probably a few notches below New Orleans in terms of desirability. The same for Kyrie.

        LBJ jersey sales were #1 in his rookie year and never dropped below 3 in the next few years with the Cavs before heading to Miami. In addition, LBJ sneakers are annually at the top and Kyrie sneakers are always in the top 5 as well while in Cleveland.

        Both LBJ and Kyrie enjoyed numerous commercial campaigns selling things other than shoes and apparel.

        And while I don’t have year by year info I bet you the Cavs w/ LBJ were probably top 3 in most nationally televised games during both stints in Cleveland.

        Zion….he’s already going by 1 name the same as Lebron, Kobe, Shaq, Jordan. You say AD or Davis to a casual sports fan and people aren’t going to automatically know who you’re talking about. You say Zion, and they will.

        This isn’t like Devin Booker being drafted 13th overall and having 3 successive seasons of 22, 25 and 27 ppg but no all-star appearances as he languishes in a small market west coast team. He probably deserves more branding opportunities but he’s not getting it.

        Zion will get paid well in endorsements and will get plenty of nationally televised games his first 2 seasons and from there his play and the teams success will dictate whether he can sustain that much brand support. So no, him playing in New Orleans will not hamper his earning potential at all. He and New Orleans will likely be in the top 3-5 in merchandise, commercial bank-ability and national tv exposure. Also, with no other NBA franchises East of Texas, New Orleans will pull fans from neighboring states with ZERO professional sports teams such as the case in bordering states Arkansas and Mississippi as well as Alabama. He’s a big ole country boy that the South will sop up quicker than a biscuit in some gravy (said with southern drawl). He will be somewhere between what Larry Johnson was out of UNLV and Shaq/Lebron.

        Also, jersey sales are pooled together and equally distributed among all players so while Zion might sell more jerseys if he were in a larger populated city like NY that doesn’t mean that he would necessarily EARN more than say a star player in Sacramento.

        Ok..back to having a life.

  10. Yep it is

    Amazes me that NY, Cleveland, Phoenix all had a 14% in this joke of a draft and since the Knicks didn’t get it everyone is up in arms. Oh the poor Knicks. Enough already. The NBA will kill itself with that draft and the. It will go back to the way it was. All the National Media with the East Coast bias is childish on this with the Knicks.

  11. knickscavsfan

    Here’s an honest question. If your a bad team in a small market that DOESN’T attract the top FA yet you sign a bunch of mediocre guys and at BEST you’re a 30-40 win team, what’s the point? What’s the payoff? I mean, yes, you CAN find an occasional monster of a star like Giannis or Kawhi but those are far and few in between. I just don’t like the term tanking and I think the change in the draft will do more harm than good. What’s the point of perpetually picking 7th-12th in the draft and NOT being able to attract a top FA? What chance does a small market team have to get a Lebron or AD in the draft choosing outside of the top 3?

  12. Simple Fan

    Say that the 2020 Pels can compete with anybody from the West in the 2020 NBA Finals. Klay might have been playing in Atl. where the Hawks would bring severe competition to the same scene. But what do the Pels do? Bring in
    ZZZZiooon Willimsonnnn…

    Pels 2020>Hawks 2021. So it’s going to be of no concern to Zion. Already his step-dad said he is IOW pumped up to be there. And why not? Pels can easily go to the Finals next year

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