New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson reacts to a play during a game.
Source: Wikimedia | Dr. Dunkenstein

NBA News: Stan Van Gundy Doesn't See Zion Williamson Pushing His Way To The Knicks

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Apr. 26 2022, Published 7:15 a.m. ET

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans remain on uneasy footing.

As much as both sides are downplaying the situation, there is rising internal tension. Those factors have placed doubt around Williamson's long-term future in New Orleans. However, former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy doesn't see that leading the star big man to eventually play for the New York Knicks.

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Stan Van Gundy Doesn't Envision Zion Williamson Joining The Knicks

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Source: Wikimedia | Binho24

Throughout the entire ordeal surrounding Williamson and the Pelicans, the Knicks remain circled as the desired destination.

It's widely believed that the star big man initially wanted to be drafted by New York, but the team failed to secure the top overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. However, former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy recently told The New York Post that he doesn't believe Williamson will one day play for the Knicks.

“It’s always a plan that all these free agents want to come there,” Van Gundy told The Post. “And their fans think everybody wants to come to New York to play. But what is the example of that to use — the high-profile free agents who have come there? A lot of New Yorkers think everyone has New York at the top of their list and the Knicks are picking and choosing. That’s not the way it’s been working the last 20-plus years.”

Zion Williamson Is Eligible For An Extension

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Source: Wikimedia | Dudek1337

Another important wrinkle in the situation is that the All-Star big man is up for a max rookie extension after the 2021-22 season.

The Pelicans can offer Williamson a projected five-year, $186 million deal that will pay him roughly $32.03 million in the first year of the contract. Although he has experienced concerning injury issues, it's hard to envision the team not exploring this route.

When healthy, he's one of the game's best young talents. The question remains whether he will hammer out that deal or leave his long-term future open.

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The Knicks' Ability To Land Star Players

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Source: Wikimedia | Drabdullayev17

The Knicks possess the allure of playing in Madison Square Garden and a passionate fan base, but it hasn't translated to star players joining the franchise. LeBron James alone passed on playing for New York multiple times in free agency.

Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving recently suggested that he and Kevin Durant almost considered signing with the organization in the summer of 2019. Williamson could become the exception to that notion, but it's hard for Van Gundy to believe it will happen.

Zion Williamson's Contract

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Source: Wikimedia | Dudek1337

The 21-year-old is in the third year of his four-year, $44.2 million rookie deal that runs through the 2022-23 campaign. His current contract possesses a $17.5 million qualifying offer for the 2023-24 season that would keep him a restricted free agent, giving the Pelicans the chance to match any offer.

Much can change in the coming months, but Williamson's extension situation is something the Knicks will monitor closely.

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