As William Guillory of The Athletic observes, it’s no coincidence that Zion Williamson – typically not very active on social media – posted a video of him throwing down a between-the-legs windmill dunk just days after Shams Charania reported that he likely won’t return this season. It also doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the Pelicans cleared him for increased activity shortly after that video was posted, Guillory writes.
There’s “an air of silent cold war brewing” between the Pelicans and Williamson, according to Scott Kushner of NOLA.com, who writes that the star forward clearly wants to play this season, while the team – wary of risking his long-term health – is reluctant to let him.
It’s a difficult spot for the Pelicans, who reportedly frustrated Williamson during his rookie year by playing it safe with his knee injury and holding him out longer than he felt was necessary. The two sides are about to enter a crucial offseason, with the former No. 1 overall pick eligible for a rookie scale extension.
Before that offseason begins, Williamson, his camp, and the Pelicans’ top decision-makers need to come together to agree on a decision about his status for this season, Guillory opines. If all the involved parties can get on the same page on that issue, it should create a more comfortable starting point when they approach extension talks in the summer.
Here’s more on the Pelicans:
- Christian Clark of NOLA.com examines some of the similarities and differences between Williamson’s lengthy injury rehab process this season and Kawhi Leonard‘s injury recovery process during his final year in San Antonio.
- Within his weekly “10 Things” column for ESPN, Zach Lowe highlights the impact that Jose Alvarado has had in New Orleans and says he’d be shocked if the team doesn’t convert Alvarado’s two-way contract to a standard deal soon. Doing so would ensure that the rookie guard is eligible for the play-in tournament and playoffs.
- William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic discuss several topics related to the Pelicans’ future, weighing the possibility of a Williamson extension, considering whether or not Alvarado’s emergence changes the backcourt plans going forward, and evaluating the team’s chances of earning a playoff spot next month.
- Following up on last month’s revelation that good friends Larry Nance Jr. and Josh Hart temporarily swapped houses when they were traded for one another, Andrew Lopez of ESPN takes an entertaining, in-depth look at what that arrangement has looked like.