Following an exciting first-round playoff exit during the 2021/22 season, the Pelicans face an intriguing 2022/23. The team expects to get 2021 All-Star forward Zion Williamson back from the foot injury that kept him sidelined last year, and hopes to build on the chemistry its players exhibited in their hard-fought six-game postseason loss to the Suns.
In a new mailbag, Will Guillory of The Athletic addresses questions about the team’s willingness to add 33-year-old All-Star forward Kevin Durant in a trade package centered around draft picks and young star forward Brandon Ingram; guard CJ McCollum‘s standing as a scorer in the NBA; the breakout potential of second-year small forward Trey Murphy III, and more.
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Mavericks reserve guard Frank Ntilikina will not suit up for France in the World Cup qualifiers or the 2022 EuroBasket competition due to lingering pain, per a statement from the French Federation of Basketball. Ntilikina showed off his defensive upside during his first season with Dallas, though he boasted relatively modest offensive numbers of 4.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG and 1.2 APG across 58 games.
- In a new conversation with Andrei Felix of CNN Phillippines (YouTube video link) young Rockets shooting guard Jalen Green spoke about the skills he’s been focused on developing during the 2022 offseason. Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic supplied the transcript (Twitter link). “I’ve been working on decision making, tightening up my handle, and knowing what shots I want to get on the floor,” Green said. “Getting comfortable getting to my spots and just rising up. Catch-and-shoot.” He also preached patience to Houston fans hoping for a return to deep postseason runs. “No matter if it’s 2 year, 3 years, next year, I just want every fan to be patient with us,” Green continued. “We’re working. We’re in the lab. We’re going to make sure this happens as soon as possible.” The second pick in the 2021 draft out of the G League Ignite, Green made the All-Rookie First Team while averaging 17.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 2.6 APG for a rebuilding 20-62 Rockets club.
- In case you missed it, the Rockets signed veteran center Willie Cauley-Stein to a one-year deal, with a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp.