Zion Williamson gives Knicks another reason not to trade for him

New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson
New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Zion Williamson would have called NYC home for the last four years if the odds had been in the New York Knicks' favor at the 2019 draft lottery. Knicks fans were disappointed with the No. 3 pick, but in retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise.

Williamson has played 61 games in a season only once, which happened in 2020-21. In his rookie season, he played in a career-low 24 games, and in 2022-23, 29 games. He didn't play at all in 2021-22. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed the 2019-20 season, but that doesn't take away from the point that Williamson has struggled to take care of himself.

This past summer, Williamson's name was tied up in drama. However, he still managed to have a productive offseason. Or, at least, it seemed that way. Pelicans VP David Griffin took note of Williamson's work ethic and said:

"This was the first summer where we've seen Zion take his profession seriously like that and invest in it off the court on his own in a way that I think is meaningful."

David Griffin, via ESPN

It's been two months since Griffin said that, and things have already worsened. Williamson looked gassed from the beginning in New Orleans' 133-89 loss to Los Angeles in the In-Season Tournament semifinals on Thursday. He had a hard time getting up and down the court and finished with only 13 points and two rebounds in 26 minutes.

Zion Williamson's poor conditioning should keep Knicks away from trade

On Friday, The Times-Picayune's Christian Clark reported that Zion Williamson still hasn't taken his job seriously (subscription required).

"The Pelicans have repeatedly stressed to Williamson that his diet and conditioning need to improve. Williamson, multiple team sources have told The Times-Picayune, “doesn’t listen.""

Christian Clark, The Times-Picayune

The Pelicans have a 12-11 record, and if their season doesn't go as hoped, they could listen to trade offers for Williamson. If that happens, the Knicks should, at the very least, proceed with caution.

After 2023-24, Williamson will still have four seasons left on the rookie max extension he signed in the 2022 offseason. New Orleans took a gamble on giving him an extension, and it's a move that didn't take long to come back to hunt them. It's one thing to have an extensive injury history but another to completely ignore what it means to be a true professional.

New York thought it would get Williamson in 2019, and the opportunity could arise for the Knicks to trade for him soon. If one thing's been made clear in the past four years, though, it's that while Zion has the potential to be a superstar in the NBA, he doesn't have the drive.

He's still only 23 and could turn his career around, but in the meantime, the front office shouldn't seriously consider a Zion Williamson trade.