The New Orleans Pelicans were surely thrilled that the NBA voted to give them a shot at competing for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference when league play resumes in late July. However, the legal predicament surrounding rookie phenom Zion Williamson isn't fading. In fact, it's only intensifying.
Last week, a judge denied Williamson's request for a protective order from answering questions under oath about taking impermissible benefits while in college at Duke. Now, the 19-year-old Pelicans star's former lawyer, Gina Ford, is bolstering her claims that he received money to attend the ACC juggernaut and was "permanently ineligible" to play for the Blue Devils.
The new court filing issued by Ford alleges that Williamson and his parents received "monies, benefits and/or other prohibited benefits" from the university. She is also seeking discovery into Zion's parents' living arrangements while he was attending Duke.
Ford's attorneys noted evidence of the Pelicans forward's parents living in a property in North Carolina that belonged to Duke alum Thomas Morris. Per the filing, the monthly rent of that residence was valued at just under $5,000. Before he attended Duke, his mother and father were reportedly residing in an $895 per-month property in South Carolina. The case also alleges that there were three "luxury" vehicles registered to Williamson's parents.
We can only assume that Zion will continue to deny the allegations, but this could blow up before long. For a Pelicans team that will require laser focus in order to reach the postseason -- to say nothing of a Duke program that prides itself on being the ultimate example of doing things the right way -- that's a concerning possibility.