Could Zion Williamson Return to Duke?

May 15, 2019 - 3:03 pm

(97.1 The Ticket) When the New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, it appeared presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson expressed a bit of disappointment. One report said Williamson wanted to go to the New York Knicks.

If Williamson doesn't want to play in New Orleans, he could make a power play, which would be possibly the most dramatic in sports history. It would be a tremendous gamble.

Willamson has yet to sign with an agent, he doesn't have a shoe deal and he has finished his first year of classes at Duke. All three are required if NBA prospects want to withdraw their draft status. It appears Williamson has protected his NCAA eligibility.

Williamson expressed recently that he wanted to stay at Duke and the only reason he turned pro is because of the financial risk. Not only would he risk his pay day as the No. 1 overall pick, but he would risk a potential blockbuster shoe deal of $100 million or more and numerous other endorsement possibilities.

Williamson would face vicious criticism for pulling such a move, but if he doesn't want to play in New Orleans, he holds the trump card.

Williamson has until May 29 to hold onto his college eligibility. He can ultimately force the Pelicans to make a trade with the team of his choice through back channels if he is indeed serious about going back to Duke.

By scheduling the early-entry withdrawal date after the lottery, the NBA created a loophole -- and the potential for a dramatic soap opera. It's in Williamson's hands. Will he try to dictate what he wants at the potential cost of tens of millions of dollars?

By Tom Millikan