J.J. Redick: Pelicans star Zion Williamson a ‘detached teammate’

Zion Williamson and J.J. Redick with New Orleans Pelicans
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C.J. McCollum said Pelicans franchise player Zion Williamson didn’t reach out to him in the week-and-a-half since McCollum got traded to New Orleans. McCollum said Williamson has since contacted him.

But that delay apparently fits a pattern for Williamson.

Former Pelicans teammate J.J. Redick, via ESPN:

This just shows a complete lack of investment in your team, in the organization, in the city. I get that he’s hurt and away from the team. But you just traded for one of the 50 best players in the league, a guy that’s supposed to be paired with you. Reach out and say hello. This is a pattern of behavior with Zion that we are seeing again and again. And, look, I was his teammate. I can describe him as a detached teammate. That is an accurate statement. This is basic level of humanity being a teammate. Send a text to a guy when he get traded your team. That is just normal behavior. That is the bar minimum that you have to do.

This is something I addressed with Zion in front of the team, OK? This is going back to his rookie year. There’s a responsibility that you have as an athlete, when you play a team sport, to be fully invested. You’re fully invested in your body. You’re fully invested in your work. And you’re fully invested in your teammates. That is your responsibility and we have not seen that from Zion.

Redick holds a grudge toward Pelicans lead executive David Griffin. Maybe Redick is trying to create chaos for Griffin or draw attention to the consequences of Griffin enabling Williamson.

But pinning the blame so squarely on Williamson also indirectly absolves Griffin for some of New Orleans’ problems. Reddick and Williamson also share an agency (CAA) and Duke connection.

On balance, this is especially scathing coming from Redick.

Some of this could be chalked up to Williamson be injured and away from the team. But Redick spent part of last season, when Williamson was largely healthy, with the Pelicans.

Age also likely factors. Like many young players, Williamson (21) must learn the right habits. As the franchise player, he has the additional burden of learning to lead, too.

The big questions: Why does Williamson remain so far behind in these areas? Does he even want to be in New Orleans enough to grow there?

Before the season, Williamson declared he wouldn’t miss the playoffs again. Saying it is one thing. Understanding and doing everything that goes into winning in the NBA is another.

Williamson clearly doesn’t get it yet.