Save for the loss, Zion Williamson put on a show in an impressive NBA debut at The Garden.
Williamson, last year’s top overall pick, tallied a game-high 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals in the New Orleans Pelicans’ 122-112 overtime loss to the surging New York Knicks.
After absorbing his second straight loss to the Knicks in five days, Williamson couldn’t hide his affinity towards New York and the Madison Square Garden.
“I’m glad you asked that, actually. I mean, New York is the Mecca of basketball. I love playing here,” Williamson flashed a wide grin answering when asked about his pro debut in New York.
“I played here in college. It’s my first time to play here in the pros. I mean this atmosphere, whether they’re cheering for you, whether they’re booing you, itâ€™s amazing! I think outside of New Orleans; this might be my favorite place to play. I can’t lie to you.”
The Knicks were tied for the best lottery odds of landing Williamson in the 2019 Rookie Draft. But they settled for the third pick instead and got Williamson’s running partner and roommate at Duke RJ Barrett.
Williamson bolting out of New Orleans and forcing his way to New York down the road isn’t as crazy idea as before.
The Pelicans fans had seen this nightmare two years ago when a disgruntled Anthony Davis sought a trade after seven fruitless years in New Orleans.
Davis won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers the next season after he got his trade wish.
The Knicks are in the biggest market in the East. With a playoff quality team, a $50 million cap space, and deep draft capital, the Knicks have positioned themselves as a promising destination for the next disgruntled star.
Following their sixth straight win over Williamsonâ€™s Pelicans, the Knicks are sitting tightly on the sixth seat in the East, one-and-a-half-game ahead of the Miami Heat and seven games clear of the 10th place Chicago Bulls.
The Knicks’ future had never been brighter in the last seven years.
But Williamson is highly unlikely to get traded anytime soon unless he wishes. And even if he does, it will take a king’s ransom like the Davis trade to acquire him.
It will be interesting to watch how the Pelicans front office can build a winning team around Williamson and keep him in the Big Easy.Â
Not an easy task.Â
So until then, the prospect of Williamson reuniting with Barrett in New York will always be a tempting idea down the road.
Follow this writer: @alderalmo