There was a lot of idle talk around the Las Vegas Summer League about Zion Williamson‘s weight, conditioning, and ultimate playing weight. While he only suited up for half of one game, it’s safe to say Williamson was not exactly in peak playing condition. Which is irrelevant at what amount to exhibition games in July, but it raised a few eyebrows.
What is Williamson’s ideal playing weight?
The Pelicans don’t know because he is still growing, according to New Orleans head honcho David Griffin, speaking to Jeff Duncan of The Athletic.
“Yeah, I don’t know that we can determine a weight yet. Zion’s still growing. One of the things that’s lost in this whole process is that, like Jaxson Hayes, Zion is still getting taller. We’re not exactly sure what he’ll look like in the end. So a playing weight is not what you look for. What you look for is to be in top condition, to have the kind of core strength and stability that you need to control all of the incredible torque that his athleticism can generate…. That’s really where [VP of player care] Aaron Nelson and his team are going to focus their efforts, because Zion is one of those kids, like LeBron, he’s not going to lift a weight because he’ll add muscle and weight so quickly. So what you have to do with him is do everything you can from a core and stability standpoint to give him more ability to control what he already has in terms of strength and speed.”
Working out is part of it, but you can’t outrun your diet — and living in New Orleans can make eating healthy that much harder.
The Pelicans are on it.
“As you pointed out, New Orleans is not an easy place to live and eat when you’re a 19-year-old kid and can literally eat anything you want. There can be some temptation there, so we’ll certainly try to put him in a position to be surrounded by more of the right decisions (nutritionally). But, for the most part, we don’t know what he’ll end up looking like because he’s still growing. When he entered Duke he was clearly shorter than R.J. Barrett, and I think you saw (at the Vegas Summer League) he was clearly taller than R.J. Barrett. So it’ll be interesting to see where that goes.”
Williamson’s conditioning is not likely a long-term concern, like a lot of young players he will find the jump from college-level conditioning to NBA level a challenge but he will at some point figure it out.
How he develops as a shooter and playmaker (Griffin says he could be a Draymond Green-like playmaker) will be far more interesting to watch over the coming years.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that DeMarre Carroll and the San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a buyout. Carroll will then sign with the Houston Rockets:
ESPN’s Tim McMahon added in a subsequent report that the Rockets will bring in free agent forward Jeff Green:
Green will first sign a 10-day contract with the Rockets, so he can get used to their system and see if there is a fit, Woj reported.
Carroll signed a three-year, $20.65 million contract as part of a sign and trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Spurs this past summer. That agreement was part of a three-team trade that saw San Antonio send forward Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards. The 10-year veteran is owed $7 million for this season, $6.65 million for 2020-21 and $1.35 million guaranteed for 2021-22. San Antonio will incur a cap hit for each of the three seasons as part of the buyout process with Carroll. How much of a cap hit will depend on how much money Carroll gave up as part of the buyout agreement.
Carroll was added via sign and trade after Marcus Morris spurned the Spurs in free agency. Morris had originally agreed to sign with San Antonio, but backed out after the New York Knicks offered him $15 million as a free agent. The Spurs moved on to Carroll as a backup plan, but he was never able to crack the rotation. He’s played only 135 minutes over 15 games with San Antonio.
Green was with the Utah Jazz earlier this season, before being waived to create a roster spot for Rayjon Tucker. The 11-year veteran Green averaged 7.7 points per game in 30 appearances with Utah. The Rockets will be the ninth different franchise Green has played for.
In Houston, Carroll and Green will join Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball crew as big man depth. Carroll and Green will likely back up P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington up front. Their experience at both forward spots will give the Rockets additional depth for their playoff run. Carroll and Green are also likely be to asked to play some center, as Houston has downsized dramatically at that position, including trading Clint Capela at the trade deadline.
Better pay. Better working conditions. Not to be treated as disposable parts by their employers.
The players in the G-League want the same thing out of a union that auto workers, teachers, and (most obviously) NBA players do. As had been expected (talks had been going on for a while), on Monday the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players’ union) voted to support the formation of a G-League union, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The G-League players are expected to support this. Sources have told NBC Sports that team and league officials will not oppose the players unionizing, they believe there will be benefits, too.
The primary issue will be pay. Most players in the G-League earn a $35,000 salary, unless they’re an elite high school prospect, or on a two-way contract (which means they are tied to an NBA team and can be called up for 45 days a season). Some players make more through an Exhibit 10 contract with a team — meaning they go to training camp with a team, then get a bonus ($50,000 or so) if they sign with that team’s G-League team.
Other issues would include freedom of player movement, work benefits, and giving the players a voice in other matters like discipline issues.
The NBA continues to push toward each of its teams having a minor-league affiliate. Right now, only the Trail Blazers and Nuggets do not. As the G-League grows, it’s understandable the players want a larger voice in how things are run.
In other news out of the players’ union meeting, Kyrie Irving was voted in as vice president, replacing Paul Gasol. Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Chris Paul remains the union president.
CHICAGO — In a weekend filled with spectacular tributes to Kobe Bryant, this one stood out.
Legendary rapper, songwriter, record producer, and businessman Dr. Dre — a guy who grew up in Los Angeles — released a tribute that stood out (and was highlighted on TNT). Dre did this with Gibson Hazard and Jackson Bannon.
Kobe’s public memorial service takes place Feb. 24 at Staples Center.
CHICAGO – James Harden has griped about Giannis Antetokounmpo winning Most Valuable Player last year.
After his team lost to Harden’s in the All-Star game Sunday, Antetokounmpo got in a dig at Harden.
“Offensively, we were just trying to find whoever James Harden was guarding,” Antetokounmpo said of his team’s strategy late. “That’s who we thought we’d have the opportunity to score on.”
Harden is not a good defender. But this is playing right into his hands. He’s at his best in isolation, especially in the post. He faces far more difficulty when run through actions off the ball or trying to keep up in transition.
Down the stretch, Harden defended more effectively than usual. Not great, but above his usual standard. Good enough for LeBron James‘ team to win.
At least, as Giannis previously noted, the MVP trophy is at his house.