The NBA world was rocked with the news Timberwolves GM Gerson Rosas was fired yesterday, but there's an even bigger story rolling around the hill. The only reason ESPN hasn't been talking about this 24/7 is that New Orleans is one of the smallest media markets in the NBA. To sum it up - the Pelicans are in a whole lot of trouble.
We reported a CAA agent saying that the Pelicans are "on course to lose Zion." That story focused on the Pels repeating the same team-building mistakes they did with Anthony Davis. Now we learn there's a lot more behind the scenes that paint the picture of a young star growing frustrated to the point of ghosting the entire organization - the front office, coaching staff, and his teammates.
Throughout his rookie season, Williamson had grown increasingly frustrated with the Pelicans for the number of hoops they required him to jump through to return from the knee injury he suffered in the preseason. The team initially provided a return-to-play timetable of six to eight weeks, but it took more than three months for Williamson to get back on the floor. When he was finally given the thumbs up to play, he was placed on "burst" limits, which he detested. The way Williamson's return was handled caused significant tension between him and the team's medical staff, sources said.
Williamson’s relationship with Griffin had also begun to sour. Although they communicate infrequently now, Griffin tried hard in Williamson’s rookie year to forge a bond. One example: During the Pelicans’ bubble stay, Griffin asked to meet with Williamson and played the piano for him.
Christian Clark, NOLA.com
Infrequently seems to be an understatement, and the level of dysfunction sounds insane. Shamit Dua from BourbonStreetShots reflected on Clark's piece and added that there's a lot more to come to light. In a series of Tweets, he talks about the fact Zion hasn't been in contact with anyone from the organization the entire summer and has skipped all team workouts so far. He alleges Zion left the bubble with a hamstring injury that was kept secret because his parents wanted it that way, and Dua said he had confirmation from several members around the team that even they didn't know. Here's an anonymous post that Dua commented on by saying, “I can't refute any of it.”
A lot of stuff is floating out there, and only one thing is certain - there's a lot of frustration on both sides. While Tomas Satoransky thinks the media has spread false Zion Williamson rumors, as reported by Basketball News, the fact he finished his statement with "I'm convinced of it" isn't very convincing. The reality Pelicans fans need to accept is that we all know how situations like these end in the modern NBA. A lot of things in this post can be true, and you'd still do whatever Williamson wants just to keep him.
But if an agent from the agency that represents Williamson said the Pelicans are "on course to lose Zion," we've heard multiple rumblings that Zion's not enthusiastic about the Pelicans, and he dropped hints that he loves playing in Madison Square Garden - we may have the first rookie to take the qualifying offer and leaves.