Appearing on The Hoop Collective (video link), Brian Windhorst’s podcast, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez said Pelicans star Zion Williamson is “ready to go” for the 2022/23 season. Williamson, who missed all of last season after undergoing surgery and subsequently experiencing setbacks from a broken foot, has been working out with his trainer as opposed to the team’s staff since he was cleared to play with no restrictions at the end of May, Lopez added.
“He is now working with Jasper Bibbs, his strength and conditioning coach, he has a chef, he has taken steps to improve his body so we don’t have a situation where he is only playing 85 games in a three-year stretch, or missing an entire season,” Lopez said.
In an interview last week with William Guillory of The Athletic, Bibbs said Williamson was in “fantastic shape” and “a better athlete now than he’s ever been.” The former No. 1 overall pick signed a five-year, maximum-salary extension in July, and will reportedly be required to undergo regular weigh-ins throughout the duration of his new contract due to a conditioning clause.
Here’s more on the Pelicans:
- Speaking at Media Day on Monday, general manager Trajan Langdon said guard Kira Lewis Jr. is not ready for five-on-five yet action yet, according to Lopez (Twitter link), who notes that Lewis tore his ACL last December. The recovery period for a torn ACL is typically 12-plus months, so it might be a while until we see the 21-year-old former lottery pick back in action.
- When asked about paying the luxury tax, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said that ownership was willing to commit when appropriate. “When it’s time to really go all-in on something, we will,” Griffin said (Twitter link via Christian Clark of NOLA.com). New Orleans is currently about $3.5MM under the $150,267,000 luxury tax line for ’22/23.
- The Pelicans announced a series of front office and coaching promotions and additions in a press release. Sammy Gelfand is the team’s new senior director of basketball analytics. Ryan Pannone, formerly the head coach of the Birmingham Squadron, the Pelicans’ G League affiliate, is now an assistant coach. Jordan Kincaide has also been added as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. Ryan Frazier has been promoted to assistant coach; Both Corey Brewer and Darnell Lazare have been promoted to assistant coach/player development coach; Brandon Demas has been elevated to two-way coach; Jordan McGuire and D’Or Fischer have been elevated to player development assistant, with McGuire also serving as an assistant shooting coach.