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#pounditMonday, August 8, 2022

Articles tagged: New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans showing more pessimism about Zion Williamson?

Zion Williamson shooting in practice

If you bought puts on Zion Williamson stock, you are probably making a killing right now.

Speaking Thursday on “Get Up,” Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that the New Orleans Pelicans coaching staff and players became aware a couple of weeks ago not to expect the star forward Williamson back for the foreseeable future. Windhorst adds that when New Orleans traded for CJ McCollum at the deadline, they did so knowing there was a good chance that Williamson would not be able to play, perhaps even for the rest of the season.

The Pelicans have not provided an official update on Williamson in over a month. Executive David Griffin did tell reporters last week though that the former No. 1 pick “feels very good” but stressed that “this is all anecdotal.”

Windhorst’s report comes amid the bombshell suggestions this week that Williamson could need another surgery on his problematic foot. The former Duke star has now missed 118 games and counting in his NBA career while playing in just 85. That combined with the negative reports to emerge about Williamson’s rehab process offers little reason to be encouraged right now.

Photo: Mar 4, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) laughs while warming up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

CJ McCollum traded to Pelicans from Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum

The Portland Trail Blazers have had one of the best backcourts in the NBA for nearly 10 years, but they are ready to break it up.

CJ McCollum is on the verge of being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for a package that includes Josh Hart and draft picks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

There have been reports leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline that the Pelicans were eyeing McCollum. They view the 30-year-old as an ideal veteran scorer and leader to pair with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

McCollum is averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game this season. Hart, 26, has averaged 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds.

McCollum has spent his entire career in Portland, but we recently heard of one reason he could be dealt.

The Blazers supposedly remain committed to building around Damian Lillard, and the McCollum trade should give them some financial relief.

Photo: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Pelicans teammates had awesome gesture for rookie Jose Alvarado

Jose Alvarado with a headset on

Some of Jose Alvarado’s teammates really took care of him over the last week.

Alvarado is a New York native, and his New Orleans Pelicans played in the boroughs over the last week. Alvarado had family nearby that wanted to watch him play. That’s when his teammates stepped up and took care of him.

Pelicans announcer Joel Meyers shared that Josh Hart took care of tickets for Alvarado’s family for the Jan. 15 game at Brooklyn. Teammate Brandon Ingram took care of the tickets for Alvarado’s family for the team’s Jan. 20 game at the Knicks, according to Meyers.

That’s pretty nice.

Alvarado is an undrafted rookie out of Georgia Tech and has played in 18 games this season. He’s seen increased action this month and scored a career-high 7 points in front of his family against the Nets. He topped that with 13 points in 19 minutes against the Knicks, while helping his Pelicans win in Madison Square Garden.

For a kid who played high school ball in Queens, playing well at MSG was a huge deal. Alvarado said on Twitter and in his postgame interview that it was a dream come true.

Zion Williamson, Pelicans disconnected over rehab?

Zion Williamson at a press conference

The three words to best describe Zion Williamson’s continued rehab process may very well be “Not great, Bob.”

The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Jan. 5 that Williamson, who has not played all season due to a foot injury, would be continuing his rehab away from the team. The press release stressed that Williamson would remain under the supervision of the Pelicans’ medical staff though.

Christian Clark of The New Orleans Advocate gave a somewhat worrisome report this week about Williamson’s rehab however. The report stated that Williamson has been rehabbing in Oregon, where Nike’s headquarters are located, and that he flew there on Pelicans owner Gayle Benson’s private jet. But Clark’s report also says that no Pelicans officials actually accompanied Williamson on the trip. Instead, Williamson has been working with Jasper Bibbs, an ex-LSU strength coach who was fired last August after less than two months at the university.

Clark’s report contains other details about Williamson’s rehab as well as about LSU’s firing of Bibbs. You can read it in its entirety here.

Nothing about the Williamson situation seems to be going well right now for the Pelicans. The former top pick has faced scrutiny over his weight and has reportedly been approaching his rehab with a lousy work ethic. Now the team appears to be disconnected from Williamson’s rehab process altogether, which is yet another concern.

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

Stan Van Gundy has animated defense of Zion Williamson on Twitter

Stan Van Gundy

Stan Van Gundy and Zion Williamson may have had their differences during Van Gundy’s brief tenure as head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. That doesn’t mean the former coach is going to pile on with Williamson at the center of numerous unflattering reports.

Williamson suffered a recent setback while trying to return from foot surgery. There have been a lot of questions about his work ethic and talk about his weight being out of control. Some people have also compared Williamson to fellow former first overall pick Greg Oden and wonder if his career could be over before it really took off.

Van Gundy took to Twitter on Friday morning to poke holes in some of those narratives. He noted how Joel Embiid, who is one of the best players in the NBA, missed significantly more games than Williamson in his first three seasons.

Like Williamson and Oden, Embiid dealt with a foot issue early in his career. There were also concerns about his weight. Van Gundy defended Williamson further and said any talk about his weight or conditioning is mere speculation. He told the critics to “calm down.”

Van Gundy’s defense of Williamson is noteworthy. He only coached the former Duke star for one season, but there were reports that Williamson pushed Van Gundy out in New Orleans. Van Gundy has had nothing but positive things to say about Zion since.

The Pelicans announced on Thursday that Williamson has received an injection in his right foot. He will be reevaluated in 4-6 weeks.

Photo: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons could end up with fitting team?

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons’ latest possible trade destination could be a very fitting one.

Matt Moore of The Action Network reported this week that the New Orleans Pelicans have popped up on the radar for a potential Simmons trade.

The fit would be an apt one for Simmons on a number of different fronts. It would be a homecoming of sorts for the three-time All-Star, who attended college at LSU. It could also jumpstart the Pelicans, a 9-21 team with one of the worst defenses in the NBA this season, and give them an insurance plan just in case Zion Williamson’s health continues to trend downward. Finally, a Simmons trade could be a Hail Mary for embattled Pelicans executive David Griffin, who seems to be on shaky ground right now.

There are obviously higher-upside landing spots out there for Simmons. But the Pelicans should be able to plant themselves firmly in the mix with the strong war chest of young players and draft capital that they have to offer (not to mention that the fit makes plenty of sense).

Jan 30, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) talks to fans before a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Pelicans give troubling update about Zion Williamson’s foot injury

Zion Williamson shooting in practice

Zion Williamson has been working his way back from foot surgery, but it does not sound like the New Orleans Pelicans star is all that close to suiting up.

The Pelicans announced on Thursday that Williamson recently experienced soreness in his surgically repaired foot, which will delay his return. Williamson will now have his workload dialed back.

That, obviously, is not a great sign. Foot injuries have a tendency to linger, especially for big players. Williamson has reportedly been having issues with his weight again.

The Pelicans have gone to great lengths recently to get Williamson healthy, but it may not be paying off. The former first overall pick has made just 85 appearances in his NBA career due to injuries. Any setback is a huge concern at this point.

Photo: Mar 4, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) laughs while warming up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Pelicans have gone to great lengths to get Zion Williamson healthy

Zion Williamson shooting in practice

The New Orleans Pelicans need Zion Williamson to be healthy and in shape, and they are apparently moving mountains to try to make it happen.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez report Friday that the Pelicans have gone to great lengths to get Williamson healthy, devoting significant time, resources, and energy. Namely, they have changed staff members and even changed some of their culinary practices in an effort to support Williamson. The report adds that the Pelicans have spoken to him about protecting his body from extra hits and that executive David Griffin has stood up privately for Williamson by sending video clips to the league to illustrate how the star forward has been getting hacked. Griffin was even fined by the NBA last year for publicly criticizing the way that Williamson is officiated.

The report also says though that efforts have not shown terrific results, and it is easy to see why. Williamson remains out after undergoing foot surgery, which is part of an increasing list of lower-body injuries for him at just 21 years of age. Williamson’s weight has also been a major cause for concern.

Having made just 85 appearances to this point of his pro career, Williamson is more the butt of jokes right now than the superstar that he can be when healthy. The Pelicans are hoping that their continued investment of resources into Williamson will yield more of the latter in due time.

Photo: Mar 4, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) laughs while warming up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Pelicans player has unusual explanation for positive PED test

Didi Louzada warming up

A New Orleans Pelicans player is offering an out-of-the-ordinary explanation after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Pelicans guard Didi Louzada drew a 25-game suspension from the NBA on Friday for a violation of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program. He tested positive for drostanolone and testosterone.

Louzada said in a statement to ESPN that he had unknowingly ingested the banned substances during an offseason trip to Brazil. He consulted with a nutritionist, who recommended that he take certain substances.

“When I was in Brazil during the offseason, I consulted a nutritionist who recommended I take some vitamins and supplements,” Louzada explained in the statement. “Because she has a history of working with professional athletes, I would never have imagined that any of those substances would be banned or could be contaminated. Once I learned of the positive test, I immediately cooperated completely with the league and union to help all of us understand what exactly occurred.

“I would never knowingly take anything that violates NBA rules,” Louzada continued. “I accept my responsibility in this situation. I deeply regret that this happened and I apologize to my team, my teammates, and Pelicans fans for this mistake.”

The 22-year-old Louzada is of Brazilian descent. He was taken in the second round of the 2019 draft, and the Pelicans traded for his rights. But Louzada has made just five appearances for them in two seasons. He has also spent time with New Orleans’ G League affiliate, the Birmingham Squadron.

PED suspensions are fairly uncommon in the NBA. The last one happened a couple of years ago with a more well-known player.

Photo: May 9, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Didi Louzada stands on the court before a game between the Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson nowhere close to returning?

Zion Williamson shooting in practice

Zion Williamson may be as close to a return as his 1-12 New Orleans Pelicans are to playoff contention right now.

Shams Charania of The Athletic said this week on “The Pat McAfee Show” that the star forward Williamson is not close to a return, adding that the Pelicans continue to push back his timeline.

“What is the point then to bring him back if they are not anywhere close [to contention]?” Charania added.

Charania also said that Williamson’s bone is not fully healing yet and that he still needs to get into proper game shape, which he is not currently in.

The Pelicans have suffered nine consecutive losses and are already a full five games back of even the play-in tournament zone. They also have seven more contests against teams with winning records before the end of November.

The former No. 1 overall pick Williamson continues to recover from his foot surgery and has created loud speculation over his weight during his absence. Combined with the Pelicans’ truly abysmal record right now, it does not sound like we will be seeing Williamson back on the court for awhile.

H/T NBA Reddit

Photo: Mar 4, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) laughs while warming up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports