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Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett want to team up, but it probably won’t be any time soon

2019-08-12

The world thought Zion Williamson would be the new face of the Knicks when New York finished with the worst record in the NBA last season. That didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean Williamson won’t eventually don the orange and blue down the road.

Williamson left that door open in an interview with Complex Sports on Tuesday. And while he didn’t explicitly mention New York, the Pelicans phenom did mention that he and RJ Barrett have discussed teaming up at some point during their NBA careers.

“Yeah, we talked about it in college a lot," Williamson said. "We kinda talked about it as we were both going to get our careers started and see how it goes. I mean, if we can possibly link up in the future, that would be great."

Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett formed a tight bond in their one season together at Duke. (Nell Redmond/AP)

Williamson did note one caveat: If things are going well for both him in New Orleans and Barrett in New York, “we’ll just kind of leave it there.”

Barrett, of course, was New York’s consolation prize after the Pelicans leapfrogged the Knicks in the draft lottery to select Williamson No. 1 overall. Fans, though, shouldn’t expect this wild idea to become reality any time soon.

That’s because both Barrett and Williamson are signed to four-year rookie deals, after which they’ll more than likely be met with five-year rookie scale extensions worth more money than they can dream of. For example, Jamal Murray signed a five-year, $170 million extension in Denver this summer. D’Angelo Russell signed a five-year, $117 million max extension in his sign-and-trade to the Warriors.

That means if both Barrett and Williamson develop into the breathtaking basketball talents the world anticipates, they’ll be on their current teams for the next nine seasons before hitting unrestricted free agency. Can you wait until 2028 for a Barrett-Williamson tandem? That’s a long, long time away.

There’s also the worst-case scenario: That the same dysfunction that has sent top free agents scurrying from the Knicks still remains years from today, that Scott Perry, Steve Mills and David Fizdale are unable to successfully right this ship and bring the New York franchise back to respectability. That would pave the way for Williamson to recruit Barrett to New Orleans, instead of the other way around.

Here’s to Knicks brass figuring this one out.