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#pounditSaturday, October 1, 2022

Articles tagged: New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans VP shares interesting comment on Zion Williamson contract extension

Zion Williamson smiling

Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson’s future with the New Orleans Pelicans has been in question for some time now, but it looks like the Pelicans want him in New Orleans long-term.

In an appearance on “The Ryen Russillo Podcast” Thursday, Pelicans vice president David Griffin was asked if the team is comfortable extending Williamson. Griffin’s response shut down any rumors that the Pelicans have had second thoughts about keeping the big man.

“It’s not a big decision,” Griffin said. “It’s a pretty easy decision. The kid’s historically good when he plays. This is a max player, that’s easy.”

Griffin said that he and the organization feel confident that Williamson wants to remain in New Orleans based off of Williamson’s comments while speaking to the media after the season.

Griffin also told Russillo that, due to Williamson’s injury history, the Pelicans should “indemnify” themselves in the deal they give to the 21-year-old. In late May, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the Pelicans likely wouldn’t offer Williamson a fully-guaranteed contract.

Williamson has only played in 85 career games over three seasons due to multiple injuries. When he’s on the floor, he has has averaged 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists during his career.

If the Pelicans can figure out a deal with Williamson, and he can stay healthy, then the team could be poised for an improvement next season.

Pelicans to hardball Zion Williamson in contract talks?

Zion Williamson smiling

Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans is known as “The Big Easy,” but their contract negotiations with Zion Williamson this summer may be anything but.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported this week on the impending contract talks between Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. As a member of the 2019 draft class, Williamson has until the start of the 2022-23 regular season to reach an extension with New Orleans or else become a restricted free agent in 2023.

“From what I have been told, the Pelicans, at this point, are not willing to offer [Williamson] a full five-year guaranteed deal,” said Windhorst. “And a lot of it is flowing down from ownership. Gayle Benson, the owner, is also the owner of the New Orleans Saints. And I have been told they’re going to take a football-style, Saints-style mentality with this contract negotiation.

“They will offer him a huge contract but will not guarantee all of it,” added Windhorst. “If Zion accepts those terms, he still protects himself, and maybe gets $100-plus million guaranteed, he signs, everything’s fine. If he doesn’t sign and wants the full guarantee, we could have some drama into the fall.”

The Pelicans’ stance here makes sense though. The former No. 1 overall pick Williamson is not exactly bargaining from a position of strength right now. He missed all of this season with a foot injury and has appeared in just 85 total games through his first three NBA seasons. Williamson has also faced questions over his weight, his work ethic, and whether or not he even wants to be in New Orleans at all.

This week did at least come with a promising update on Williamson’s health. But for a Pelicans team that made the playoffs and put up a fight against a 64-win Phoenix Suns team without him, it is difficult to justify maxing out Williamson until he proves he is healthy enough to justify such a price tag.

Pelicans have promising update on Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson smiling

Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans had a successful 2021-2022 season that culminated in a first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns. The team played the entire season without former first-round pick Zion Williamson due to injury, but that shouldn’t be the case next season.

The Pelicans announced in a statement on Twitter Thursday that Williamson had been cleared to play without restrictions.

“Recent imaging of Williamson’s right fifth metatarsal showed continued improvement,” the statement read. “Williamson has been cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions.”

Williamson missed the entire season after breaking his foot during summer workouts. He has said that he would sign an extension with the Pelicans despite rumors that he is unhappy in New Orleans.

Williamson has only played in 85 career games over three seasons due to multiple injuries. He has averaged 25.7 points, seven rebounds and 3.2 assists during his pro career.

The news of Williamson’s return comes at a time in which enthusiasm for the Pelicans is growing, and for good reason.

The team took the top-seeded Suns to six games in the the Western Conference Quarterfinals, and has a talented core of players in CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Brandon Ingram. With Williamson back in the mix, the Pelicans could be a real threat in the Western Conference.

Pelicans share big news after promising season

Zion Williamson smiling

Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans were one of the NBA’s feel-good stories this season, and many are betting that the good times will keep rolling next season as well.

The Pelicans announced some big news this week following the completion of their surprise playoff run. They said in an official release that all floor seats for the 2022-23 season were already sold out.

“We are thrilled to announce all floor seats in the Smoothie King Center next season are sold out,” Pelicans team president Dennis Lauscha was quoted as saying. “Our Pelicans fanbase showed exceptional support throughout the homestretch of the 2021-22 season, and we look forward to seeing all of our fans come out and continue to support this team next year.”

The Pelicans should not have even sniffed the playoffs after starting the year 1-12 and not having Zion Williamson all season. But under first-year coach Willie Green, the team surged late in the year thanks to the addition of CJ McCollum, the emergence of unheralded rookies Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado, and the stellar play of Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas.

New Orleans improbably won two straight play-in tournament contests to officially qualify for the NBA playoffs and even took two games off the 64-win Phoenix Suns in Round 1. Now the Pelicans will hopefully be getting the former No. 1 overall pick Williamson back healthy for next season and have all their other core guys under contract for 2022-23 as well. Given how easy the team is to root for on top of that, and it is no wonder that the local fans are already showing out for them.

Zion Williamson answers whether he wants to sign extension with Pelicans

Zion Williamson smiling

Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson has long been the subject of rumors regarding his future in New Orleans, but he tried to put some of those to rest on Friday.

The Pelicans star told the media that he would eagerly sign an extension with the team whenever it is offered to him. Williamson is eligible to sign a extension this offseason as he enters the final season of his rookie deal.

Williamson is saying what Pelicans fans want to hear, but saying it and doing it are two different things. There have been rumors in the past that Williamson’s camp would prefer to get him out of New Orleans, so there are no certainties until he actually signs a contract.

For what it’s worth, Williamson has consistently denied rumors that he is unhappy with the Pelicans. The organization’s future looks bright, as they took the Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round despite Williamson missing the entire season. That may encourage him even more to stick around.

Pelicans’ home playoff game encounters unique scheduling conflict

Brandon Ingram looking on

Apr 5, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans’ unlikely playoff run created an even more unlikely scheduling conflict this week at their home arena.

Smoothie King Center, home of the Pelicans, faced a unique issue because of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. Farrah Yvette of WDSU-TV in New Orleans reported Monday that Smoothie King Center was scheduled to host a No Limit Reunion concert on Friday night at 7 PM local time. However, the Pelicans’ first-round playoff berth meant that they were also hosting Game 3 against the Phoenix Suns at Smoothie King on Friday night at 8:30 PM local time. The conflict was still unresolved at the time of Yvette’s report on Monday morning.

Several hours later though, Smoothie King Center announced the official rescheduling of the No Limit show to an undetermined later date, adding that the NBA holds precedence for the building. Rapper Master P later shared that the concert would take place on Apr. 30 instead.

The Pelicans began the NBA season 1-12 and had to win two separate play-in games just to make the playoffs at all. Thus, it appears that they surprised even their home arena by successfully qualifying for the postseason.

While Phoenix is still heavily favored to win the series, which they currently lead 1-0, New Orleans will get to host at least two playoff games this year. As for this funny scheduling crossover between sports and entertainment, it is something that we usually only see with the NFL.

Zion Williamson at odds with Pelicans over return to lineup?

Zion Williamson smiling

Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

After a relatively quiet last few months, the toxic relationship between Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans may be rearing its head again.

Andrew Lopez of ESPN reported Friday that there is currently a “difference of opinion” between the two sides on whether or not Williamson is healthy enough to play. The Pelicans maintain that Williamson’s bone has not healed sufficiently for him to return to the floor, Lopez adds.

The former No. 1 overall pick Williamson remains out indefinitely with his injured right foot. He has not played for New Orleans all season, but he looked pretty healthy and explosive in a recent viral video.

It is natural for an injured athlete to want to play and for the team to have to protect that athlete from himself. But Williamson and the Pelicans already do not have the best relationship. Any disconnect over Williamson’s return to their floor definitely won’t improve matters between New Orleans and their franchise pillar.

Pelicans waited 3 years to get revenge on Anthony Davis and finally did

Anthony Davis smiles

The New Orleans Pelicans waited a long time to get some revenge on Anthony Davis for forcing a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. On Tuesday night, they finally got their chance.

The Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns 121-110 on Tuesday to officially be eliminated from the playoffs. The Pelicans, meanwhile, are 35-44 and have clinched a play-in game appearance against the Spurs.

The Pelicans tweeted the news Tuesday night, but included a subtle shot at Davis in their tweet. Pay special attention to the first line of the tweet.

What’s the deal with the tweet?

The first line says “That’s All Folks!”

In Davis’ final game with the Pelicans in 2019, he wore a shirt saying “That’s All Folks!” in the Looney Toons font. Davis ended up being traded to the Lakers that summer.

Yes, New Orleans had to endure Davis winning a championship with the Lakers in the Orlando bubble. But they finally got their revenge in 2022. The Lakers have gone through a disastrous season, and their teetering ship finally sank. New Orleans is loving it.

Photo: Dec 18, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Reporter thinks Pelicans will trade Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson smiling

One reporter believes that Zion Williamson could meet the same fate as fellow ex-No. 1 overall picks like Markelle Fultz and Andrew Wiggins.

Boardroom’s Jordan Schultz appeared this week on “The Dan Patrick Show” and said that he thinks the New Orleans Pelicans will trade Williamson.

“I don’t know if Zion Williamson ever plays for the Pelicans again,” Schultz said. “He’s played 85 games [so far] in his career. If you don’t trade him this summer, what are you gonna get for him long-term? If you don’t believe he’s going to stay healthy, what are we talking about here?

“I think there’s a very good chance he will not be back, and they will trade him this summer or at least strongly explore trades,” Schultz added about the 21-year-old Williamson. “The bottom line is you cannot extend him if you’re New Orleans given that he’s basically played one season [out of] almost three. You just can’t do it at this point.”

For what it’s worth, Schultz is close with Pelicans guard CJ McCollum. He previously co-hosted a podcast with McCollum, who was acquired by New Orleans in a trade last month.

As for Williamson, who has not played all year because of a foot injury, there has actually been some encouraging news with him in recent weeks. But that not does change the fact that Williamson was a big headache for the Pelicans for virtually the entire season to that point. There have been questions over Williamson’s weight, his work ethic, and even his traits as a teammate. That is not even to say anything of the big durability concerns for Williamson, a player who has missed the equivalent of two full seasons with lower-body injuries and relies heavily on his athleticism to be elite.

Without Williamson this season, the Pelicans are still in the playoff hunt thanks to a well-rounded roster that includes McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, and rookie Herbert Jones. By moving Williamson this summer, New Orleans would risk trading him at the basement of his value. But it may be something that they should at least consider if there is a more compatible core piece out there for them to acquire.

Photo: Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Pelicans issue surprising Zion Williamson update

Zion Williamson at a press conference

Amid the torrential downpour of bad news with Zion Williamson’s health this season, the New Orleans Pelicans are finally getting a welcome reprieve.

The Pelicans announced Wednesday that recent imaging showed improved bone healing in Williamson’s troublesome right foot. While they were quick to note that Williamson is still out indefinitely, the team added that he will now gradually progress to full weight-bearing and basketball activities.

That is actually surprisingly good news for the former No. 1 pick, especially this late in the year. Williamson has missed 61 games and counting this regular season with only 21 left to play. But the Pelicans, thanks to the midseason acquisition of CJ McCollum, are mounting a run and have themselves in a competitive position for a play-in tournament bid.

Many were probably expecting Williamson to be shut down for the season at this point. Even Pelicans fans appeared to have exhausted all their patience. While it still feels like a stretch for Williamson to return in the final month of the season, it may no longer be totally out of the question, particularly with New Orleans still having something to play for.

Photo: Sep 27, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Zion Williamson during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports