Zion's recovery process
Pelicans head coach Willie Green gave an update on Zion's injury on Monday, revealing that the Pelicans forward is able to do 5-0 work, but no contact yet. "He's cutting. He's doing explosive work. He's running. He's getting closer and closer," Green said. "It's just one of those injuries where we want to be really diligent, especially with the foot, of being careful when we put him back on the floor at full go."
According to Basketball News, Williamson will be re-evaluated in two or three weeks to determine whether he can progress to full-contact 5-on-5 work, the last stage of the recovery process. Until then, he remains focused on getting healthy and getting back into shape -- the latter is crucial for Zion's body to hold up. But judging by his latest warmup video, the Pelicans forward still has a long way to go.
"North of 300 pounds"
Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported weeks ago about Zion "reaching north of 300 pounds"and leaving the league personnel struck by his heavier appearance than his playing weight last season of 284 pounds. The video of him warming up before the Pelicans' game against the Knicks on Saturday proves that Fischer, at the very least, was on the right track with his report.
300 pounds or not, the 21-year-old is clearly overweight. Even when he's cleared to participate in all team activities and he's back to full health, weight loss should remain Zion's No.1 priority. He is obviously yet to realize it, but the longevity of his NBA career depends on it. That's why, at this point, Williamson needs to hear it from someone at the top of the Pelicans organization. But based on what Biran Windhorst had to say on the latest "Hoop Collective Podcast," that relationship is headed south.
Zion's weight gain may as well be his way of getting back to the organization and starting his "I want out" campaign. But the fact he's doing it at the expense of his own health is a bad look for the 6-6 forward. That's why, if that really is the case and this is Williamson's way of saying he's not happy with the organization, he should think about changing his approach. Because any time you're at the point Charles Barkley can say something like this, you know things got out of hand.
Following one of his funniest lines ever, Barkley gave Zion and the Pelicans guidelines for making the necessary switch. "When guys get hurt and they come back, you're trying to get in shape," he said. "If you're putting all that stress on your knees and your feet, you're just gonna keep getting hurt. Somebody's got to be a grown person down in that relationship and say, 'yo man, you got to get in shape.'"
Stop with the shirking!
For Charles Barkley, who struggled with the same issues early on in his career, Moses Malone was the guy who held him accountable. Zion has no teammates of Malone's influence, nor does he have an awareness to tackle this problem himself. That's why the Pelicans, as an organization, need to step up.
No 21-year-old should deal with the issues Williamson is dealing with. That's why, even if his relationship with New Orleans is already broken beyond repair, Zion needs to do what's best for him and start taking care of his body. Barkley did it, and he had an-all time great NBA career. If Zion does it, based on 85 games played so far, he can go on a similar run. The alternative is another Greg Oden scenario. And no one wants to see that happening.
The time to act is now. And it doesn't matter who initiates the change. But someone has to do it