In the hours following the news that the New Orleans Pelicans had won the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday — and with it, the chance to draft Duke star Zion Williamson first overall next month — speculation abounded that Williamson could somehow pull a power play to avoid going to the Pelicans. Such a power play could have entailed either declaring that he wanted a trade to another team in the draft. It could also have seen Williamson, who had not yet hired an agent, returning to Duke for another season.
There was never much reason to suspect any such move was in the works, and now we know — straight from Williamson’s camp — that he wants to play for the Pelicans.
“We’re excited, we’re excited about that,” Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, said of Williamson and his family. This news came courtesy of an interview with the Off the Bench radio show, via Twitter. “There has been a lot of speculation but that is not something we have even considered,” Anderson said of the idea of the player returning to Duke.
When Anderson delivered these last remarks, the host of the show could be seen pumping his fist in celebration.
Anderson also said, in the same interview, that both he and Williamson had spoken with Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and Pelicans general manager David Griffin in recent days. The stepfather revealed that Williamson is looking forward to getting down to New Orleans and finding a place to live, even though the team has not yet formally drafted him.
Zion Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, says on @1045espn that Williamson is excited about joining New Orleans. “One thing that Zion has always been taught, 'You accept the things that you can't change and change the things that you can change.'” More: https://t.co/1LgF9Jw8EV
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 16, 2019
Shams Charania reported on Twitter this week that Williamson, at the NBA’s pre-draft camp in Chicago, had shared a “positive meeting” with Pelicans brass. Williamson also met the Memphis Grizzlies, who have the second pick.
Anthony Davis, the last player to be chosen with the top overall pick by New Orleans, is still on the team. However, Davis demanded a trade earlier this year. Various reports this week have stated that the Pelicans will try to persuade Davis to remain with the team — and to play with Williamson — but Davis is not expected to change his mind. But if Davis remains on the trading block, the Pelicans will be able to tailor the return from any trade package to players who will be playing with Williamson going forward.
Two teams rumored to have interest in Davis, the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers, landed the third and fourth picks in the draft, giving them potential assets in a possible Davis trade this offseason.