New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has left the NBA’s bubble campus in Orlando, but he is expected to return at some point when the season resumes.
The Pelicans announced on Thursday that Williamson has left Walt Disney World to return home because of an “urgent family medical matter.” Williamson is expected to rejoin the Pelicans at a later date, though it’s unclear if he will return before the season resumes on July 30.
Williamson will have to follow quarantine protocol when he returns to Orlando, which could impact the timeline for when he is cleared to rejoin his teammates and/or play in games.
Williamson averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games before the NBA season was postponed. The Pelicans are 3.5 games behind the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference, so it would be a huge blow if they don’t have Williamson for any of their remaining regular season games.
Zion Williamson apparently spent the quarantine period taking a page out of the book of another former No. 1 overall pick in Tim Duncan.
The New Orleans Pelicans rookie told reporters this week that he relearned his fundamentals during the time off, adding that he was working with his stepfather, Lee Anderson, when he wasn’t rehabbing with team staffers.
“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” he said, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry also sounded pleased about Williamson’s work.
“His stepfather did a fantastic job of working him out every day, of making him be in good conditioning when we got him back,” said Gentry. “He’s made a lot of strides in his shooting, I think. Although we weren’t together, he did a lot to improve his game.”
Williamson, who just turned 20, ascended to stardom primarily because of his elite physical profile and athleticism. He averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 19 appearances before the season was suspended.
The latest development in the legal battle between Zion Williamson and his former marketing agent, Gina Ford, has the potential to be a huge one.
In a new court filing obtained by Daniel Wallach of The Athletic, Ford and her agency, Prime Sports Marketing, allege that Williamson and his stepfather were paid $400,000 to sign with another marketing agency in October 2018. Williamson was enrolled at Duke at the time.
BREAKING: Zion Williamson’s former marketing agent files “newly-discovered evidence” in North Carolina federal lawsuit. New affidavit claims Wiliamson and his stepfather were paid $400K in Oct. 2018 in exchange for granting exclusive marketing rights to another agent. pic.twitter.com/nDEznYsKr4
In response, Williamson’s legal team claimed the new evidence Ford filed is “patently fraudulent.” Williamson’s attorneys claim Ford’s filing included a fake driver’s license and a “clearly fraudulent” signature.
Zion Williamson’s attorneys are claiming that new evidence submitted by Gina Ford is “patently fraudulent.” Among their bombshells:
In 2019, Williamson filed a lawsuit in North Carolina against Ford, alleging that his marketing agreement with Prime Sports Marketing was invalid under the Uniform Athlete Agent Act. Ford is not a registered agent in North Carolina and therefore, Williamson’s team believes a contract Williamson signed with her in North Carolina would be void.
“He looks amazing,” said Ball. “He looks fully healthy. He looks even stronger than he was before, if that’s even possible. But I was happy to see him, happy to see he’s in shape, and looking forward to playing with him.”
Ball displayed a very unique chemistry with the high-flying Williamson in the 19 games that they played together this season before play was suspended. The Pelicans had a ridiculous plus-15.2 net rating whenever the two shared the floor, per ESPN.
An evaluation of an NBA player’s legacy is one of the most volatile aspects of the league, as in some cases, all it takes is a single game or shot to define an entire career. Every NBA player is looking to prove themselves whenever they step foot on the hardwood. However, there comes the point for specific players, where proving themselves becomes a necessity.
From former number one overall picks to potential league MVPs, here are the five players with the most to prove headed into Orlando.
“Zion has been diligent about taking care of himself,” said Griffin. “He’s in a good space physically and mentally.”
The 19-year-old Williamson missed the first several months of his rookie season due to a meniscus tear. When Williamson returned, he averaged a stout 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game but only got to make 19 appearances before play was suspended in mid-March.
Some reports suggested that the NBA made certain to include Williamson and the Pelicans, who were outside the playoff picture, in Orlando. Regardless of whether that was ultimately true, Williamson looks poised to make the most of his extra airtime.
Zion Williamson’s former marketing agent is trying to get the NBA star to testify as part of a high-profile lawsuit, but it does not seem to be going well at all.
The attorneys for Gina Ford, Williamson’s former marketing director, filed a subpoena Wednesday meant to be sent to NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. According to Dana O’Neil of The Athletic, it was instead sent to the offices of Douglas J. Kosek, a dentist in South Bend. The confusion seems to stem from the fact that Kosek started an NCAA LLC in February.
When informed that NCAA headquarters were in Indianapolis and not South Bend, one of Ford’s attorneys, Larry Strauss, responded “Gosh, is that where it is located?”
Another co-attorney, Alvin Pittman, said that the missent subpoena was likely a “clerical error.”
“It must be a clerical error,” Pittman told O’Neil. “We are unaware of everything that gets done. We don’t do all of the typing. Obviously, this is a mistake we need to look into.”
Obviously. This isn’t exactly a huge endorsement of the competence of Ford’s lawyers or the plausibility of her case. She has alleged that Williamson illegally accepted benefits while playing for Duke, including luxury cars and a house. She has even threatened to subpoena Mike Krzyzewski, not to mention Williamson himself.
There has been a new development in the legal case between Zion Williamson and his former marketing agent, Gina Ford.
In 2019, Williamson filed a lawsuit in North Carolina against Ford, alleging that his marketing agreement with her company, Prime Sports Marketing, was invalid under the Uniform Athlete Agent Act. Ford is not a registered agent in North Carolina and therefore, Williamson’s team believes a contract Williamson signed with her in North Carolina would be void.
Williamson’s legal team filed an appeal and was granted a stay on Wednesday.
BREAKING: Zion Williamson is granted a full stay of the Florida lawsuit brought by Gina Ford. The 3rd DCA’s Order states that “the trial court’s proceedings are hereby stayed.” This means that he will not have to answer Ford’s discovery requests – for now – as venue shifts to NC. pic.twitter.com/oGhAf7IngS
The court said that the originally filed lawsuit in North Carolina will be handled first before they enter discovery on the case in Florida. Legal analyst Daniel Wallach has previously said he does not think Williamson will have to face discovery about his eligibility. This ruling helps support that idea.
Williamson, who became the No. 1 pick by the New Orleans Pelicans, broke his contract with Prime Sports Marketing to sign with Creative Artists Agency.
It appears Zion Williamson rookie cards are already worth a lot of cash — to some people, at least.
As noted by Darren Rovell of The Action Network, a Williamson rookie card recently sold on eBay for $99,800. The card, at least as depicted on the listing, is both signed and numbered and one of just 99 produced.
Zion Williamson card sells for nearly $100,000, assuming, and this is a big eBay if, the buyer pays it… and the shipping pic.twitter.com/W8jYpr6jJI
How hot a property is Williamson right now? There’s chatter that the NBA is going out of its way to try to get him into the playoffs this year. That’s real star power, for better or worse.
Disclaimer: An eBay auction being won for a certain price does not mean the winning bidder paid the money. Please note that card collecting is rife with scams where markets for certain cards can be fixed.
Zion Williamson has been accused of accepting illegal benefits while at Duke, and the latest court documents filed by his former agent claim the life of luxury Williamson’s parents were living during the New Orleans Pelicans star’s lone season with the Blue Devils is proof of that.
Williamson is involved in a lawsuit with his former marketing agent, Gina Ford of Prime Sports Marketing. Ford is suing Williamson for allegedly breaching his deal with her agency to sign with Creative Artists Agency. Williamson’s attorneys filed a motion last month to try blocking a legal inquiry into the former Duke star’s college eligibility, and the motion was initially denied. Three days later, a different judge ruled in favor of Williamson and granted the 19-year-old a temporary stay that states he and his attorneys do not have to answer questions under oath.
Ford is still trying to make the case that Williamson and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski should be forced to answer questions under oath. In Ford’s latest filing, she cited the fact that Williamson’s parents went from paying less than $900 a month in rent before Zion arrived at Duke to living in a $950,000 house that cost nearly $5,000 per month while Williamson was playing for the Blue Devils.
Gina Ford’s attorneys also point to the improved housing situation of Zion Williamson’s parents as evidence that he was paid to attend Duke:
Ford also pointed to the three luxury cars that were registered in Williamson’s parents’ name.
“The cars, the cars, the cars!”
Gina Ford says that the 3 luxury cars registered to Zion Williamson’s parents justify discovery (meaning depositions under oath) “to determine whether these vehicles impacted his eligibility to be/remain a ‘Student-athlete.’” pic.twitter.com/cp5VTm8SwQ
Williamson’s attorney, of course, fired back and ripped Ford’s latest filing.
NEW: Zion Williamson’s attorney (Jeffrey S. Klein) issues statement calling Gina Ford’s latest court filing “a shameful attempt to distract from their admitted violations of NC law” and “a continuation of the predatory acts the agent statute was designed to protect against.” pic.twitter.com/izegdydGVo
The ultimate goal from Ford is likely to threaten Williamson and Duke to the point where a settlement seems like the best option. That would be a sure way to protect damaging information from becoming public. If Williamson and Duke have anything to hide, that is still a possible — if not likely — outcome.