Sunday, 19 May 2019 12:36

'MATTer of Opinion' Sports Column: Zion should be happy he's not going to New York

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The New York Knicks got hit with a valuable lesson during Tuesday's NBA Draft lottery as the New Orleans Pelicans' logo was unveiled for the No. 1 pick: There are no shortcuts in the NBA.

Zion Williamson is going to the Pelicans, and, astonishingly, that's the way it should be. I'd much prefer Anthony Davis karma for whatever would've unfolded in New York.

See, as the Knicks have spent the past six seasons losing (a lot), their entire mission has been lazily constructed. They wanted to land max-level superstars in free agency to complement top draft picks.

It was a good idea, in theory, if you're playing NBA 2K. But there was just one problem — the Knicks failed on both fronts. No superstar wanted to play for the Knicks. LeBron James passed on them in free agency twice. Kevin Durant went to the Warriors. Paul George never gave New York much of a thought. 

When it came to their drafting, the Knicks hit on Kristaps Porzingis and shockingly traded him to Dallas after an ACL injury. Through two season, 2017 No. 8 pick Frank Ntilikina has been a disappointment. Last year's No. 9 pick Kevin Knox was dreadfully inefficient.

The Knicks did, however, manage to alienate Carmelo Anthony to the point that he asked for a trade. And let history repeat itself with Porzingis.

Zion needed to stay away from this, and luckily, he was spared.

The Knicks are a team with no direction. They have an overbearing owner in James Dolan who oversees a franchise that hasn't reached an NBA Finals since Zion Williamson's infancy. It would have been a disservice to take Williamson, who is fun, and start his career in the most toxic, soul-crushing franchise in the league.

We would have watched as the New York Hype Machine turned on Williamson at the first sign of a rookie wall or struggles to live up to the Knicks' unrealistic expectations in year 1. I wouldn't wish the Knicks on anyone.

From a basketball perspective, this would have been a terrible fit. While Dennis Smith Jr. is an electrifying athlete, he's not a cornerstone piece that fits alongside Williamson. And honestly, it's difficult to envision a top free agent jumping at the opportunity to turn around a rebuilding effort in an organization and city that doesn't have the patience for one.

Failing isn't a virtue in basketball, and the Knicks are the best at failing. They never deserved to be rewarded for that. The ping-pong balls didn't lie on Tuesday.