If the Pelicans had advanced beyond the play-in, Zion Williamson might have had a chance to return from his hamstring injury this spring, but that was far from a lock. Executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin confirmed on Friday that Williamson hadn’t even begun participating in full-court 3-on-3 scrimmages, let alone 5-on-5 action (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN).
Elsewhere on the Williamson front, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (YouTube link) noted during a TV appearance that Zion’s maximum-salary extension, which will go into effect in 2023/24, features several benchmarks related to the forward’s weight, conditioning, and games played totals.
Portions of Williamson’s salary will become non-guaranteed if he doesn’t meet those thresholds, though the Pelicans would only be able to realize those savings by waiving him.
Here’s more on the Pelicans:
- Sources tell William Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link) that CJ McCollum, who will undergo surgery on his injured thumb, was also dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder for the final seven games of the regular season.
- The Pelicans’ “big three” of Williamson, McCollum, and Brandon Ingram played just 10 games together this season, Guillory observes in a story for The Athletic. “If you would’ve told me we’d only play 10 games together this season, and we still won 42 games, I would’ve said that’s crazy,” McCollum said. “For us to be successful in the future – in the long-term – we’ve got to be able to play together. We need our best players on the court. We need to be able to play extended minutes together, especially in meaningful games, and showcase what we offer.”
- Veteran wing Garrett Temple will turn 37 years old next month, but he hasn’t considered retiring and would like to remain in New Orleans in 2023/24, tweets Guillory. Although Temple is under contract for next season, his $5.4MM salary is non-guaranteed and I don’t expect the Pelicans to keep him at that price — they could be more open to a minimum-salary deal.
- E.J. Liddell, a 2022 second-rounder who suffered a torn ACL last July at the Las Vegas Summer League, has progressed to playing 1-on-1 and is hoping to be able to play in this year’s Summer League, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Liddell’s two-way deal with New Orleans covers two seasons, so he’s under contract for 2023/24 and won’t need to be re-signed.
- Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype previews the decisions facing the Pelicans this offseason, pointing out that Jaxson Hayes and Josh Richardson will be free agents, while Herb Jones will be among the players eligible for contract extensions.