Zion Williamson has been the dream target for New York Knicks fans over the last 12 months. If the rumors are to be believed, the former first overall draft pick is unhappy with his situation in New Orleans and he could potentially request a trade rather than sign a contract extension.
However, those dreams quickly turned into nightmares, as on June 11, news broke that Zion was planning on signing his rookie-max contract extension, telling ESPN’s Andrew Lopez, “I do want to be here. That’s no secret.”
For a Knicks franchise that’s been starved of star talent in recent years, Zion is projected to be their savior, and the player to usher in a new period of contention. However, it’s highly unlikely that the North Carolina native is going to be available in the immediate future, killing New York’s hopes of welcoming a bona fide superstar into their ranks.
Williamson is situated to sign a $186 million max rookie extension with New Orleans this summer, but as Lopez reported on June 11, the Pelicans will likely add some protections into his deal rather than guaranteeing the full amount. The six-foot-six forward has struggled with injuries since entering the league and has participated in just 85 games over his first three seasons in the NBA, so those protections will likely be linked to his ability to remain healthy moving forwards.
There’s Still Hope for the Future
While any chance of landing Zion in the immediate future has all but gone, there’s still a chance that he looks to force a move in the future. Right now, the smartest decision from a financial standpoint is to sign his rookie extension, but despite the young star re-affirming his loyalty to the Pelicans, that could change before the end of his next deal.
We see it all the time. A disgruntled star re-signs with the team, and just a year or two later, they’re looking for a way out of town. Now, that’s not to say Zion will follow that path, but it’s also not saying he won’t. The downside to the Knicks is that they can’t keep building towards a “maybe”.
Positioning your roster for cap space often comes at the expense of success. However, if New York continues to develop their young talent and build through the draft, it will have a stable of tradeable assets, should Zion or any other young star suddenly become attainable via trade.
Knicks Consider Leaning into Nostalgia
While the Zion Williamson dream may be dead, or at least dormant, the front office is exploring the idea of bringing back former superstar Carmelo Anthony, for one final run with the team he spent six and a half seasons with.
According to a recent article by the New York Post’s Marc Berman, members of the team’s front office have toyed with the notion of bringing Anthony back to New York on a short-term deal, although that decision isn’t considered to be among their priorities at this moment in time.
“According to a source, Knicks brass has had internal conversations about Anthony, though more pressing concerns about how to rebuild a franchise that’s missed the playoffs eight of the past nine years have taken precedence,” Berman wrote.
Anthony’s return wouldn’t provide the Knicks with a star to galvanize their roster, but it would provide the team with an experienced scorer off the bench, one that would help stabilize their offense throughout the regular season. After all, this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony averaged 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and an assist per game while shooting 37.5% from deep and 44.1% from the field – so it’s clear he still has plenty to offer.