Sean Gardner/Getty Images
The New Orleans Pelicans and star
forward Zion Williamson have reportedly become “distant” while
he’s away from the team to rehab his foot injury.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Tuesday
on SportsCenter (via TalkBasket) the Pelicans have reached a point
where they “just don’t know what to say” about the 2019 No. 1 pick.
“They’re distant, both literally and
figuratively,” Windhorst said. “He left the team in early January
to go deal with this injury on his own, and he’s just not been around
Williamson’s role within the organization has come into question in recent days.
CJ McCollum, who was acquired from the
Portland Trail Blazers in a Feb. 8 trade, said Saturday he still
hadn’t spoken with the Pelicans’ face of the franchise since the deal.
“I haven’t had conversations with him
directly,” McCollum said. “I’ve spoken with some people close to
him, and I look forward to sitting down with him sooner than later. I
know about as much as you do right now, but I’m gonna get to the
bottom of it.”
McCollum told ESPN’s Malika Andrews on
Tuesday that Williamson has since reached out to have a conversation.
Meanwhile, former Pelicans guard JJ
Redick explained Tuesday on First Take (via CBS Sports’ Jasmyn
Wimbish) how McCollum’s experience with Williamson wasn’t entirely unique:
“This is a pattern of behavior
with Zion that we are seeing again and again. I was his teammate. I
can describe him as a detached teammate. That is an accurate
statement. This is basic level of humanity being a teammate. Send a
text to a guy when he gets traded to your team. That is just normal
behavior. That’s the bare minimum that you have to do. And the
Pelicans yesterday sent out an email for season tickets for next
year, and guess whose name was not in the email? Zion’s. What the
heck is going on in New Orleans?”
The Pelicans’ last official update on
Williamson came Jan. 5 when they announced he’d continue his rehab
away from the team.
“As you can imagine, this has been a
very difficult process for me,” Williamson said. “I know there’s
work to be done in my recovery before I can safely return to the
court, but I will continue to put in the time necessary so I can get
back on the floor with my team and represent Pelicans fans and the
city of New Orleans at the highest level.”
The 2021 All-Star hasn’t played a game
during the 2021-22 season because of the injury.
New Orleans has struggled in his
absence, posting a 23-36 record, but it’s still just two games behind Portland (25-34) for the final berth in the Western Conference
It remains unclear whether Williamson,
who averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 2020-21, has
a chance to return before season’s end.
The Pelicans return from the All-Star
break Friday when they visit the Phoenix Suns, who own the NBA’s best
record at 48-10.