The New York Knicks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks last week.
As a result, planning has already started for the organization’s future.
New life was pumped into the fan base thanks to the emerge of Julius Randle and the Knicks’ unexpected top-four finish in the Eastern Conference.
Now all parties involved want to build on that momentum.
Over the past few months, there has been increasing talk of Zion Williamson perhaps having interest in coming to New York once his rookie deal expires. The 20-year-old has leaned into this by talking about how much he loves playing at Madison Square Garden.
— KEL (@YourAverageKel) April 18, 2021
“New York is the Mecca of basketball,” he said back in April.
“I love playing here. I played here in college, this is my first time playing here in the pros. I mean, this atmosphere, whether they’re cheering for you or whether booing for you, it’s amazing.
“Honestly, I think — outside of New Orleans, obviously — I think this might be my favorite place to play outside of New Orleans. I can’t even lie to you. I can’t lie to you.”
Because of that, many have taken to wondering: could Williamson eventually end up in the Big Apple?
According to Christian Clark of NOLA.com, the answer to that is probably no.
“While Williamson is genuinely fond of Madison Square Garden, a source familiar with his thinking said he isn’t intimidated by the challenge of trying to win in a small market,” he wrote.
“Before he attended Duke, Williamson won three state championships at Spartanburg Day School, a tiny private school in South Carolina more known for its academics than its athletics.”
This past year Williamson averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Unfortunately, the Pelicans finished 31-41 – good for 11th place in the Western Conference and two games behind the San Antonio Spurs for that final spot in the play-in tournament.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
Between that poor finish and all the recent talk of the team possibly firing Stan Van Gundy already, it’d make sense if the dysfunctionality began to wear on Williamson and eventually manifested itself in a desire to leave.
That said, New Orleans does have a nice little nucleus in place. There are two teams in the hunt for Lonzo Ball right now, but if he were to stay and given Brandon Ingram’s long-term commitment, the Pelicans could be a team to watch.
If they start winning, all the talk of Williamson leaving would immediately dissipate. If they keep losing, though – expect the Knicks chatter to grow louder and louder.