During an appearance on “Stephen A.’s World” Saturday afternoon (video link), CJ McCollum cited public “misconceptions” over how Zion Williamson is viewed by his teammates and Pelicans management. McCollum said the entire organization remains supportive of Williamson and wants him to find a way to stay healthy so he can get the most out of his talents.
Injuries limited Williamson to 29 games this season, marking the third time in four years that he has failed to reach 30. He played at an All-Star level when he was available, averaging 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 60.8% from the field, but a hamstring injury he suffered in early January kept him sidelined for the rest of the season.
“The moral of the story is we all want him out there on the court,” McCollum said. “We all understand the importance of the gravity he has, we understand the importance of the greatness that he possesses — and me personally, I want him to maximize that. I want him to maximize his talent, I want him to maximize his window, our window as a team, our window as an organization.”
Executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin addressed the same topic on Friday, telling reporters, including Andrew Lopez of ESPN, that the team will work to increase Williamson’s availability, but he has a role to play as well.
I think a big part is on him,” Griffin said. “I think there is a lot he can do better. And he would, I think, tell you that. I think we need to do a better job examining the whole situation top to bottom a little bit better. I think putting him in the best position to succeed is important. And I think his participation is a big part of that.”
There’s more from New Orleans:
- McCollum, who will have surgery on his right thumb next week, wrote in his Andscape diary that “this was the most difficult season I’ve been a part of physically and mentally.” He cites the constant injuries that surrounded the team and “the roller coaster of emotions” that involved the fast start, followed by a 10-game losing streak and then rebounding to qualify for the play-in tournament.
- Dyson Daniels plans to spend a lot of the offseason in New Orleans to work on his game, tweets William Guillory of The Athletic. The Australian rookie also expects to be part of the Pelicans’ Summer League team.
- Assistant coach Ryan Pannone will join Nate Oats’ staff at the University of Alabama, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Pannone, a former G League coach, spent one year on New Orleans’ staff under Willie Green.