zionZion Williamson’s stepfather says the Duke star is cool with playing for the New Orleans Pelicans if, as expected, they take him with the first pick in June’s NBA draft.

“We’re excited [about coming to New Orleans],” Lee Anderson told the “Off the Bench” radio show on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge on Thursday. “We’re excited about that.”

Anderson answered questions about his stepson’s intentions after speculation that Williamson might not want to go to New Orleans, a franchise in flux after star Anthony Davis requested a trade last season.

Although Williamson has not signed with an agent or worked out a shoe deal and could theoretically return for a second year at Duke, the 18-year-old has not publicly even hinted at spurning the draft. In fact, he has said that while he loves Duke, he feels he has to take the next step and leave.

“And you said about returning to Duke … there has been a lot of speculation, but that is nothing that we have even considered,” Anderson said.

Williamson and his family have been in contact with the Pelicans and are planning the next steps with the team.

“I spoke with Coach [Alvin] Gentry the other night [Tuesday] and we met with [vice president of basketball operations] Mr. Griffin, David Griffin, and then I spoke with him again last night [Wednesday],” Anderson said. “We had a great conversation and we’re excited about the prospects of coming down there and getting settled and looking for a place to stay and all of these good things.”

The Knicks, Cavaliers and Hawks had the best chances to win the NBA draft lottery Tuesday at 14 percent each. But the Pelicans turned their 6 percent chance into the top pick. Many saw Williamson and the Big Apple as a natural fit.

“One thing that Zion has always been taught, you accept the things you can’t change, you change the things that you can change, and this is one of the things that he had nothing to do with,” Anderson said. “It’s the process of the NBA.”

Amid the tumult around Davis, the Pelicans went 33-49 last season and missed the playoffs. They were coming off a 48-34 campaign and a loss in the Western Conference semifinals, so high hopes went down the drain. And the Davis saga has still not been resolved. But New Orleans now has the prospect of adding the college player of the year to entice him to stay.

Anderson was asked if Williamson’s decision not to sign with an agent or ink a shoe deal meant that the family was leaving open the possibility of a return to school.

“We just feel that there’s no real rush to do this right now,” he told the radio show. “You don’t get many opportunities in life to have the leverage and the opportunity to control your own narrative, so therefore we feel like we are in position right now to do that, and we just want to make sure when we do whatever it is that we do, it’s the right decision. … We just want to make sure we do it right.”

Williamson appears to be close to his stepfather, posting a Father’s Day message on Instagram last June thanking Anderson for being “there for me since I was 4, teaching me the game I love and showing me how to be a man.”

Courtesy: ESPN.com


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