On May 14, the night the first few years of Zion Williamson’s pro basketball career were all but set in stone, the Duke freshman phenom told ESPN’s Maria Taylor he had never been to New Orleans, just moments after the Pelicans landed the top pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, that will change this week, if it hasn’t already. The Pelicans will bring in Williamson this week for a visit with the team, according to the report. There were no details reported on who this year’s presumptive No. 1 pick will meet with, but in all likelihood it will include some combination of executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, new general manager Trajan Langdon and head coach Alvin Gentry, among others.
Griffin said last month that he and Gentry met with Williamson and his parents, as well as Murray State sophomore guard Ja Morant and his folks in the late-night hours following New Orleans’ victory in the NBA Draft lottery on May 14, indicating they initially saw those two players as serious contenders to be taken with their top overall pick in next week’s Draft on June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“Those kids are incredible human beings and are about all the right things,” Griffin said. “Either one would be thrilled to be in New Orleans, and they’re both incredibly excited about the concept.”
In the days following New Orleans’ run up the draft board from the projected No. 7 pick to the coveted rights to draft Williamson, members of the national media speculated on whether Williamson would force his way out of being taken by the Pelicans in the Draft, either by refusing to sign or deciding to return to Duke. Those rumors were shot down days later when Williamson’s stepdad, Lee Anderson, spoke on air with ESPN 104.5 and said those were things were “nothing we have even considered.”
“We’re excited about that. One thing that Zion has always been taught: You accept the things that you can’t change, you change the things that you can change. And this is one of the things that he had nothing to do with. It’s the process of the NBA and certainly we’re excited about the Crescent City down there in New Orleans.”
Two weeks ago, Williamson made his intentions of staying in the Draft official, waiting until the passing of the period where college basketball players who had declared for the Draft were permitted to return, before signing with CAA Sports, where he will be represented by Austin Brown and Lisa Joseph-Metelus.