The New York Knicks have a fresh chapter in their What Could Have Been chronicles, and what ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported just before Tuesday's NBA draft lottery Tuesday night makes the Knicks receiving the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft hurt that much more.
Wojnarowski's report contradicted what Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported earlier Tuesday, that the Knicks would "shift their focus" after acquiring the No. 1 overall pick to packaging it in a potential deal to acquire New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis.
Charania's report gained a layer of irony once the Pelicans were awarded the No. 1 overall pick for the first time since 2012, when they drafted Davis.
Williamson has been the projected 2019 No. 1 overall selection since before he played a game at Duke. His one season as a Blue Devil just solidified the pecking order. The 6'7", 285-pound phenomenon is listed as a forward but has tools to play a little bit of everything.
During Duke's 2018-19 run to the Elite Eight, Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists—good for the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy for Men's Player of the Year.
Following the conclusion of Tuesday's lottery, ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps outlined what the Pelicans' unlikely acquisition of the No. 1 overall pick might mean for both Williamson and Davis in New Orleans:
"Williamson and Davis complement each other perfectly. Davis being able to step away from the basket would give Williamson room to dive as a roll man. It also opens up devastating possibilities of pick-and-roll situations with Zion and AD (good luck stopping that). Defensively, Davis' combination of size and length and Williamson's ridiculous athleticism would allow New Orleans to successfully guard virtually any team they come up against. ...
"If the hard sell works on Davis, not only would New Orleans celebrate that by giving AD a supermax deal on July 1, but it also would have ripple effects across the rest of the league. Teams such as the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers—all of whom have been linked to Davis—would have to move on in their pursuit of a franchise-changing superstar. And that development could alter where the NBA's many star free agents wind up this summer."
And that's where the Knicks re-enter the equation.
As for the draft, the Knicks can still land a stellar prospect outside of Williamson. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman updated his mock draft after the lottery and projected RJ Barrett, another Duke star, entering the mix for the Knicks:
"The New York Knicks won't be happy about missing out on Williamson, but they'll feel safe with Barrett at No. 3. The 6'7", 18-year-old wing averaged 22.6 points per game for the Duke Blue Devils as a freshman.
Barrett may be flawed and in need of sharper one-on-one moves and vision, but he's one of the draft's best bets to produce at a high level. He also possesses the confidence and go-to mentality to embrace the pressure in New York.
Barrett may also have to deal with trade rumors before his first career game. It wouldn't be surprising if the Knicks included him in a trade proposal for Anthony Davis. The Pelicans may be interested in pairing Barrett back up with Williamson, his college teammate."
Barrett is expected to meet with the Knicks on Wednesday, according to NBA reporter Adam Zagoria.
Since trading 2015 No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in January, New York has been expected to go after max free agents this summer. Regardless of picking first or third, free agency presumably remains the priority.