NY Knicks: How the team can land Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, NY Knicks. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, NY Knicks. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks
Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

NY Knicks: Zion Williamson accepts the qualifying offer

On the March 16th episode of The Lowe Post, Zach Lowe and Kirk Goldsberry theorized about what the next step and “endgame” of the player empowerment era is. Lowe says:

"Teams are living in fear of how will it go. One of the scenarios that you hear about is: who’s gonna be the first superstar coming off of his rookie deal – the first real superstar, who says ‘you know what, I’m just gonna take the qualifying offer.  I’m not even gonna negotiate a contract with you guys… If I’m the #1 pick: my qualifying offer for one year then I become an unrestricted free agent.  I’m not even gonna deal with restricted free agency.  I want outta here as soon as possible.’  And the qualifying offers for the top picks are like fifteen million dollars… Now it’s less than they would make if they signed a new contract right then and there… in the next ten years, someone is going to at least investigate ‘should I do that?’"

If any player has the leverage to accept the qualifying offer and leave guaranteed money on the table, it’s Zion. Even if we were to suffer an injury or have a poor season entering unrestricted free agency at only 24 years old, no team would hesitate to give him the largest contract possible.  Zion would make up the money on the back end, whether it’d be through endorsements or his eventual max deal.  And we’ve seen stars such as LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard bet on themselves, signing one-year deals and leaving money on the table.

Zion could do the same, and there are zero cap gymnastics the Knicks would need to do to fit Zion in. Obviously, their payroll will look different down the line, but there are no albatross contracts on the books. There are barely any contracts on the books:  their 2022-2023 payroll currently consists of team options on Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. That’s it. If Zion bets on himself, the Knicks will be right there with him.