Zion Williamson has not performed a sport this season for the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans opened the season throughout media day by saying Williamson had surgical procedure to restore a fracture of the fifth metatarsal on his proper foot through the offseason. On the time, New Orleans boss David Griffin was deliberately imprecise about when the previous No. 1 general choose would return, telling reporters the “timeline ought to get him again on the courtroom in time for the common season.”
Williamson was alleged to be working towards with the staff by Dec. however that also hasn’t occurred. Because the league headed to the All-Star break, there was a report that Williamson may need a second surgery on his foot.
New Orleans began 1-12 with out Williamson, however they’re 22-24 since to place themselves in place to make the play-in match within the Western Convention. The Pelicans added one other large piece on the commerce deadline by flipping a future first spherical choose for CJ McCollum, however because it occurred ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported the staff will not be anticipating Williamson again anytime quickly.
Whereas Williamson has been rehabbing his damage, there have been studies that he’s been indifferent from the staff. McCollum was interviewed on TNT throughout All-Star Weekend and stated he still had not spoken to Williamson. Former Pelicans teammate J.J. Redick, now of ESPN, used McCollum’s feedback as a leaping off level to tear Williamson’s habits all season.
You’ll be able to hearken to the total 9-minute section right here:
“This simply exhibits a whole lack of funding in your staff, in your group, in your metropolis,” Redick stated on ESPN. “You simply traded for one of many 50 greatest gamers within the league. A man who is meant to be paired with you. Attain out and say whats up. This can be a sample of habits we’re seeing with Zion.”
Redick described Williamson as a indifferent teammate after they have been collectively on the Pelicans through the 2019-2020 season. Then he stored getting in.
“That is one thing I addressed with Zion in entrance of the staff. That is going again to his rookie yr.”
“There’s a accountability that you’ve got as an athlete once you play a staff sport to be totally invested. You’re totally invested in your physique, you’re totally invested in your work, and also you’re totally invested in your teammates That’s your accountability. And now we have not seen that from Zion.”
Right here’s McCollum’s unique feedback:
Replace: McCollum says he and Zion have now spoken.
As reported on NBA At present: CJ McCollum informed ESPN that since his interview over the weekend with the TNT Crew, Zion Williamson reached out and the 2 have spoken.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) February 22, 2022
Redick additionally famous that the Pelicans didn’t embody Williamson in promotional materials for subsequent yr’s season ticket packages:
It was startling to see Redick rip into Williamson for a number of causes. They’re former teammates, each went to Duke, and share the identical company with CAA. As Redick and Stephen A. Smith continued their dialogue about Williamson, each famous the rumors that Williamson doesn’t wish to be in New Orleans long-term.
Whereas Williamson hasn’t demanded a commerce from the Pelicans, there have been a number of studies that he has a wandering eye. He was reportedly bummed the New York Knicks didn’t land the No. 1 pick within the 2019 draft on the evening of the lottery. His face lights up every time he’s requested about Madison Sq. Backyard. There have been rumors that his ‘camp’ is unhappy with the direction of the team.
As Williamson has been away from the staff, his weight has ballooned reportedly up to 330 pounds.
The Pelicans definitely began gradual, however ever since this has been a very enjoyable staff even with out Williamson. Brandon Ingram retains getting higher as a major scoring choice. Jonas Valanciunas is having one other glorious offensive season with improved three-point taking pictures. McCollum provides the backcourt further juice off the dribble and as a shot-maker. Herb Jones seems like arguably the steal of the 2021 NBA Draft as an on the spot affect defender. The vibes could possibly be actually good in New Orleans proper now, however Williamson’s damage, indifferent habits, and the persistent rumors about his future hold dominating headlines.
The place’s smoke, there’s normally hearth within the NBA. It’s definitely doable that Williamson would like to be in one other market. Sadly, he’s unlikely to turn into an unrestricted free agent any time quickly.
Subsequent season would be the final yr of his rookie deal, which suggests he’s extension eligible. If he doesn’t comply with an extension with New Orleans, he would turn into a restricted free agent, which suggests the Pelicans have the correct to match any contract he indicators. His solely method to turning into an unrestricted free agent is by taking part in on the fifth-year qualifying supply, which nearly by no means occurs.
Is Zion making an attempt to drive his method out of New Orleans with the way in which he’s performing? It’s extremely speculative to counsel so, nevertheless it gained’t cease everybody within the NBA from speaking about it.