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#pounditWednesday, October 4, 2023

Did CJ McCollum call out Zion Williamson after Pelicans’ loss?

CJ McCollum warming up

Apr 5, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans’ season came to a disappointing end on Wednesday with a play-in loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and much of the discussion postgame centered around the health and playing status of Zion Williamson.

Williamson missed much of the season, including Wednesday’s game, due to a hamstring strain, with questions arising regarding his physical fitness and readiness to play. After Wednesday’s loss, Pelicans guard CJ McCollum made some interesting comments that certainly sounded like a pointed message to Williamson.

When asked what the Pelicans needed to do in order to take the next step, McCollum mentioned the importance of injuries, and made a series of remarks that could easily be perceived as a warning to Williamson.

“It’s hard to say what we need to do other than injury because we played ten games together with our core,” McCollum said. “I would say availability is important. We’ve got to be available. We’ve got to do what we need to do off the court in terms of preparation, getting treatment, getting the right sleep, the right type of hydration, having the right type of diet.

“Everything has to matter to us, for everybody, 1 through 15. This is a performance-driven job. You play at night. Tonight we played a 9 o’clock game. That’s mad late. How are you preparing for a 9 o’clock game? What is your regimen like? What’s your schedule like? Consistently doing the small stuff, I think, would be very important for us as a team, especially for our younger guys, understanding that you have to get a routine that’s consistent, that builds consistent success.”

McCollum could be talking generally, but it is hard not to see his remarks as a message to Williamson. Some reports have said the forward is struggling with conditioning, while Williamson himself has hinted that there is a mental component to his problems. He certainly looked to be okay during pregame warmups Wednesday, even though he ultimately did not play.

The Pelicans are built around Williamson, and they are a different team if he misses significant time as he did in 2023. McCollum could hardly be blamed for being a bit frustrated with the star’s inability to play, especially if conditioning and preparation is playing a role in Williamson’s lack of games.


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