Report: Zion Williamson has family members wanting him to leave Pelicans

Zion Williamson and former Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
0 Comments

Zion Williamson received attention when Pelicans teammate J.J. Redick slammed New Orleans’ front office for dishonesty and said he didn’t expect his agents to trust those executives again. Redick and Williamson share an agency, CAA.

Williamson received attention as tension emerged between Pelicans players and coach Stan Van Gundy. New Orleans just fired Van Gundy after his lone season there. At minimum, Williamson was exposed to the dysfunction. At worst, Williamson was centrally involved in it.

Williamson definitely received attention when he went of his way to gush about how much he likes playing in New York. Williamson reportedly wanted the Knicks to win the lottery before the Pelicans drafted him No. 1 two years ago.

Behind all those distressing signs, there’s apparently actual major concern about Williamson’s future in New Orleans.

Shams Charania, Joe Vardon and William Guillory of The Athletic:

They have been unable to put together the right elements to make rising star Zion Williamson and his family happy, and multiple sources have told The Athletic that certain family members want Williamson on another team.

But for most of this season, certain Williamson family members voiced displeasure with the organization. Among the targets of their criticism was Van Gundy, who they felt was too rigid and demanding as head coach, but also with the organization, which they claim did not live up to what they felt should be the standard for a star like Williamson. Numerous opposing league executives had heard the complaints, and they were confirmed by Pelicans officials.

When the Pels traded J.J. Redick to Dallas in March, it not only upset Redick but also is said to have irritated Williamson.

Redick was a veteran with whom Williamson had grown comfortable in their two seasons together, and the dysfunction Redick accused the Pelicans of harboring is said to have stoked some of Williamson’s own feelings with regards to the direction of the franchise.

Williamson is one of the NBA’s brightest young stars. He continues to grow and evolve and still has so much room to improve. The Pelicans should obviously prioritize keeping him happy.

That might not be easy, though.

Players’ families commonly have different ideas about what’s best for the player. The more people in the player’s camp, the more opinions. It’s ultimately on the player to decide what’s best for him. Just because Williamson has some family members wanting him to leave New Orleans doesn’t mean he’ll act on it.

But Williamson is just 20 and seemingly impressionable. The Pelicans ought to be concerned.

They also face a predicament with Williamson’s super-max path.

Though the super-max rules were designed to help teams keep their stars, New Orleans might not be able to take advantage with Williamson. In fact, unintended consequences could even push Williamson to leave the Pelicans sooner than he would otherwise.

Because he didn’t make an All-NBA team this season, he must make a 2023 All-NBA team to qualify for a super-max rookie-scale extension. If he had made an All-NBA team this year – as I thought he should have – he would have qualified by making another All-NBA team in 2022 or 2023. That margin for error could have been especially helpful given his health issues.

Williamson will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension in the 2022 offseason. (If he signs, the extension would take effect in 2023 and include a provision about what happens if he makes an All-NBA team in 2023.)

Or Williamson could bypass the extension and become a restricted free agent in 2023. New Orleans could match any offer sheet he signs.

However, Williamson could also accept his $17,595,263 qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2024. Williamson would hold the ability to veto any trade during the 2023-24 season. That’s obviously a nightmare scenario for the Pelicans.

And then there’s the veteran super-max.

Implemented in the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Designated Veteran Player rule allows players to earn more money on a contract that begins in their eighth or ninth season. Players must qualify by making All-NBA teams or winning MVP or Defensive Player of the year in certain seasons.

Another requirement: Players must be with their original teams or have switched teams only via trade within their first four seasons.

So, if Williamson wants to leave New Orleans, he has incentive to force a trade sooner than later.

None of this means Williamson will leave. The Pelicans have another talented young player in Brandon Ingram and a ton of draft picks to build around Williamson. He’d have to bypass a massive guaranteed money to expedite his exit through the qualifying offer/2024 unrestricted free agency, an unprecedented move. Demanding a trade so early into his career could invite significant public-relations blowback.

But New Orleans can’t feel good about this situation.

Wembanyama encore: 36 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks against Ignite

0 Comments

Victor Wembanyama is for real.

And I don’t mean real tall, although he is that, too. Check out this image of him next to Rudy Gobert, who is a legit 7’1″.

Wembanyama is for real like a genuine generational talent — in his second game against the G-League Ignite he had 36 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.

That comes off his 37-point performance in the first meeting where he hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and had five blocks.

To be clear: That is 73 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocks, shooting 9-of-18 from 3 (and 22-of-44 overall) across two games against a good talent level. And he is 18 years old.

Everyone in and around the NBA has been trying to come up with player comps — Kristaps Porzingis, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan — but the reality is Wembanyama is one of one.

Scoot Henderson — the G-League guard projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft — played just five minutes in this game after bumping his knee while guarding Wembanyama. He was taken out of the game and X-rays found a bone bruise, he did not return. He is officially day-to-day the team announced.

Wembanyama and his Metropolitans 92 got the win in this rematch, 112-106.

Draymond Green not expected to miss any games, Warriors to handle discipline ‘internally’

2022 NBA Summer League - Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
0 Comments

Draymond Green is not expected to miss any games for punching teammate Jordan Poole during an altercation during practice, Warriors GM Bob Myers said Thursday.

That’s not to say he is escaping any punishment, it will just be handled internally, Myers said.

Green showed up at Chase Center and apologized to the team and then left, he did not practice with the Warriors, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Draymond apologized to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that,” Myers said.

Whatever punishment the Warriors are handing down to Green, it will not include missing games, Myers said.

Coach Steve Kerr added, “I expect [Green] to return on Saturday and get back at it.” That implies a couple of days suspension, likely with a hefty fine.

Kerr was also quick to shoot down the rumors of Poole having an “attitude” around camp as he comes up on a massive contract extension. Stephen Curry echoed that, saying those reports are “absolute BS.”

The Warriors have seen their fair share of Draymond Green incidents over the years, and as a locker room and franchise they know how to move on from it. While this made headlines, the Warriors will shrug it off and move on.

Miami, Milwaukee have their eyes on Jae Crowder

NBA 2022 Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks
Getty Photo
0 Comments

The Heat and Bucks don’t just have interest in the same player. They’re looking to replace the same player.

Two years ago, P.J. Tucker helped Milwaukee win their first championship in a half-century. Last season, he helped Miami lock up the top seed in the East and make the Conference Finals.

With Tucker in Philadelphia, both the Heat and Bucks are looking to fill the void with a different lockdown enforcer that can stretch the floor.

Jae Crowder and the Suns agreed that he won’t participate in practice as the team looks to accommodate his trade request. In a recent ESPN+ article, Zach Lowe made it clear that both Miami and Milwaukee are interested in pursuing a trade for Crowder.

“The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.

“The Heat have interest in Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.”

Grant and Bogdanovic were traded to Portland and Detroit, respectively. The Heat may struggle to find a trade that works since Phoenix probably won’t want to take on Duncan Robinson’s contract. Dedmon, Martin and Oladipo will become trade eligible on January 15th.

Crowder has a history with the Heat, as he helped them make the NBA Finals in the bubble. He helped Phoenix make the NBA Finals two seasons ago and then helped them finish with the best record in the NBA last season.

LeBron says Wembanyama is an ‘alien’ and a ‘generational talent’

0 Comments

There was a time when LeBron James was the “it” kid coming for the NBA — a freakish athlete like nobody in the league had seen. A player the size of Karl Malone with the quickness and skills of an elite point guard.

Now the “it” guy is Victor Wembanyama, the 7’4″ mold-breaking big out of France — and LeBron is impressed.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…

“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”

Wembanyama is projected to be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, just ahead of point guard Scoot Henerson, who scored 28 points with nine assists of his own leading his G-League Ignite to a win over Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama scored 37 points in the game, hit 7-of-11 shots from 3, had five blocks and a few other shots changed because of his length (7’11” wingspan) and the threat of his block.

Wembanyama and Henderson face off again tonight in a second game between the Ignite and Metropolitans 92 just outside Las Vegas in Henderson (9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).

Wembanyama will play, with his agent telling ESPN there are no plans to shut the No.1 pick down to avoid injury and protect his draft status. “He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better,” Bouna Ndiaye said.

LeBron looked back on his time as the “it” player and said simply, “thank got there wasn’t social media” at the time. It’s a different world now, but game still recognizes game.

And LeBron recognizes it in Wembanyama.