Former head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, Stan Van Gundy shared his opinion on the Zion Williamson situation and all the criticism he received lately for his lack of engagement and apparent desire not to be a part of the franchise that drafted him.
Van Gundy also feels Zion is detached from the team
In a recent interview for The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, Stan Van Gundy talked about Zion Williamson and the toxic relationship between Zion and the Pelicans. Van Gundy had the opportunity to coach Zion, which gave him a bit more insight into his personality and what he's like as a person off the court. Van Gundy was surprised by the recent comments from JJ Redick who called Zion detached and unprofessional for the way he treated the Pelicans and his new teammate CJ McCollum.
Van Gundy also got the same feeling about Zion being detached from the team but he believes the main reason for that is his inability to stay healthy and play the game he loves. He noticed that when Zion is on the court and playing, he is a totally different person and someone who is very much involved with the team. Unfortunately, when he is sidelined is when he gets into his own head which resulted in the whole mess that is happening right now.
“I was surprised actually that JJ came out and said that. I know for a fact that JJ really likes Zion.“Zion at times can certainly be detached. When he’s playing I didn’t think he was detached at all last year. But when he’s not playing - off-season, breaks, injured, whatever - I think he just wants to be by himself. I think he doesn’t like not playing, he wants to be by himself and get ready, that’s a big part of it. And at that point, all he wants to do is get back and play to re-attach.”
Zion is, unfortunately, struggling with injuries and in three years since he's been in the league, he only played in 85 games which is concerning since he is only 21 years old. Van Gundy feels bad for Zion because of all the criticism he received for his inability to stay healthy and be consistent like some of his other peers.
“I feel bad for him quite honestly, I think he’s come under a lot of criticism about his inability to stay healthy and play and things like that. And now about being attached and detached. He’s caught a lot of flack.”
Blasting the New York Knicks
There were also numerous rumors going around the league, about how Zion wants to join the New York Knicks and is looking for a way out of New Orleans. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but Van Gundy also brought up some good points on why that might not be true. He makes a good case on how everyone apparently wants to join the Knicks but in reality that never happens, which reflects on their lack of success in the NBA for the past two decades.
“It’s possible, but listen; the Knicks have this thing - and it’s amazing because no matter how many times people have proven they don’t wanna play for the Knicks, they got this idea that everybody in the league wants to play for New York. I’m not saying he won’t end up there: there’s all kinds of ways people can end up somewhere, but this idea that everybody wants to be a New York Knick - if that were the case, they wouldn’t be as bad as they’ve been for the last 20 years.”
At this stage of his career, it's important that Zion finally gets healthy and back to playing basketball because right now most of the fans and people around the NBA are not convinced anymore in the hype around him. All the criticism he received might have affected him mentally as well and it's never a good sign when a player so young is missing so many games early on in his career. Even if the Pelicans want to trade him, his value decreased since the last season. There are teams that would be willing to gamble on Zion, but the reality is that at this point no one is 100 percent sure at what stage is his injury and whether he will be the player everyone initially thought he would be when he was drafted in the NBA.