Could Zion Williamson Return to Duke?

By Tom Millikan

When the New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft Lottery last night, it appeared Zion Williamson expressed a bit of disappointment. Rumors suggest Zion wanted the Knicks or some other major market to win the lottery.

If Zion doesn’t want to play in New Orleans could he force quite possibly the most dramatic power play by an individual athlete in the history of sports? Well the answer is yes, but it would be a tremendous gamble by Zion.

Willamson has yet to sign with an agent, he doesn’t have a shoe deal and he has finished out his first year of classes at Duke. All three are required if NBA prospects want to withdraw their draft status. So it appears, key word appears, that Zion has protected his NCAA eligibility.

Zion also expressed recently that he wanted to stay at Duke and that the only reason he turned pro is because of the financial risk. Not only would he risk a modest contract as the #1 overall pick, but he would also risk a potential mega shoe deal of $100+ million. And he would risk numerous other endorsement possibilities.

Williamson would face vicious criticism by some for pulling such a selfish move, but if he doesn’t want to play in New Orleans, then he holds the ultimate trump card.

Zion has until May 29 to hold onto his college eligibility. So he has two weeks from today, to decide if he wants to pull one of the most unprecedented power plays in the history of sports. He can ultimately force the Pelicans to make a trade with the team of his choice through backchannels if he is indeed serious about going back to Duke.

The NBA created a loophole here for Zion to expose. The league never should have had the withdrawl date with the new entry rules after the lottery, and now the Association created potential dramatic new soap opera. It’s all in Zion’s hands. Does he have the courage to truly dictate what he wants at the mercy of tens of millions of dollars.