NBA Rumor: Zion Williamson Free Agency

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For its part, the franchise is committed to the rapid timeline. They allowed Griffin to pull the plug after handing out two lucrative contracts, paying more than $12 million combined to send Gentry and Van Gundy packing. And now, they’re giving Griffin the flexibility to hire yet another coach. One who wants to work with Williamson, and channel his frustration into passion toward turning the franchise into a winning direction. It shouldn’t be a hard sell. Sources indicate the issue is far more about losing games than anything intrinsically about New Orleans, including the small market footprint.

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Since restricted free agency has been implemented, there have been few cases of players demanding trades from teams that drafted them, namely Steve Francis with the Vancouver Grizzlies and Danny Ferry with the Los Angeles Clippers. However, with the value of qualifying offers increasing significantly, and player empowerment breaking new barriers each season, it’s no surprise that public discourse over the possibility of a premier player utilizing the qualifying offer has gotten louder.

Signing the qualifying offer can be very disadvantageous to players too. Williamson has a strong chance of qualifying for the designated rookie maximum extension over the next two seasons. If he signs his $17.6 million qualifying offer and then decides he wants to re-sign with New Orleans on a long-term deal afterward, he wouldn’t be eligible for the designated rookie maximum extension anymore. His is currently projected at $211.5 million over five years. Eligible players must begin the contract in their fifth season, but he can still sign for the normal 25 percent maximum contract with them. Meanwhile, signing his qualifying offer and signing a maximum contract with a new team would net him $148.3 million over that same five year span.

Naturally, Knicks fans went into a frenzy trying to decipher the young All Star’s comments. ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski did his best to explain that Williamson’s answer is “something to watch” over the next the few years. “I think it’s something to watch down the road,” Wojnarowski told Mike Greenberg in an appearance on Get Up! on Monday. “I think if you follow Zion Williamson closely, he doesn’t just talk to talk. He’s pretty particularl with what he says and when he says it… Listen, he’s a long way away from free agency. He’s only in his second year in the NBA. But, I think with the way that the Knicks have been rejuvenated, the success you’re seeing them have here in the short term anyway, I don’t think it was completely by accident… I think we all know with New York, if you have a competent product on the floor, if that team is run well, Madison Square Garden and New York is a place that players should want to play. We’ll see how New York is able to carry that forward to a time where it’s a more timely conversation with players like Zion Williamson.”
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