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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Articles tagged: New Orleans Pelicans

Details revealed about Zion Williamson’s weight clause in new Pelicans contract

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

Though not nearly Kyler Murray-esque, Zion Williamson’s new contract with the New Orleans Pelicans is still unusually detailed.

Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Thursday on the specifics of a weight clause that Williamson has in his new max deal with the Pelicans. Clark reveals the contract contains de-escalators if Williamson fails to keep his weight in check. Namely, the former No. 1 overall pick must keep the sum of his weight and body fat percentage below 295. The contract also states that Williamson must have periodic weigh-ins throughout the entirety of the five-year deal.

Clark adds that Williamson’s contract also has incentive-based escalators for if Williamson wins MVP or Defensive Player of the Year or makes All-NBA.

Weight has been an issue throughout the NBA career of the 22-year-old Williamson, who is officially listed at 284 pounds. It was especially so last season when Williamson was out with a foot injury — he faced rumors that he had ballooned to 330 pounds and that he supposedly ate a horrible diet.

That said, Williamson stands to earn a lot of money in his new contract if he keeps conditioned and does not let himself become Mt. Zion. It should also help for him to have a target number to stay below in order to get his bread.

Pelicans take swipe at LeBron James, Russell Westbrook over Twitter

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The usually mild-mannered New Orleans Pelicans are deciding on violence this week.

The Pelicans threw shade at Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook in a tweet Thursday. A Lakers fan clowned the Pelicans, who recently changed their Twitter header to a picture of teammates Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Naji Marshall, and Jose Alvarado sitting next to each other in Summer League.

“@PelicansNBA profile pic is a selfie of their players,” wrote the fan, noting that the Lakers’ Twitter header is a photo of their title banners. “take notes.”

The Pelicans hit the fan with a savage clapback, writing, “yes our players enjoy sitting next to each other rather than on opposite ends of the court.”

That is a pretty clear reference to James and Westbrook curiously sitting on completely different sides of the floor during a recent Summer League game.

Social media barbs aside, there is no love lost between the Pelicans and the Lakers, two Western Conference rivals. They linked up on the 2019 Anthony Davis blockbuster deal, creating somewhat of a rivalry. The Pelicans forward Ingram was the centerpiece of the package the Lakers sent to New Orleans, and Larry Nance Jr., another former Laker who was traded in a separate deal, is on the Pelicans now as well.

New Orleans also swept the Lakers in the 2021-22 season series, and one Pelican even appeared to disrespect James after the final meeting. Now the Pelicans are again going out of their way to disrespect James (this time over his relationship with Westbrook).

Kevin Durant does not want to be traded to 1 notable NBA team?

Kevin Durant looks up

Apr 23, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) looks up at the scoreboard in the third quarter against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

For Kevin Durant, winning another championship may take precedence over crawfish and gumbo.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported this week that some rival executives believe that Durant does not want to be traded to New Orleans. This comes amid speculation that the Pelicans could have the assets to mount a run at the former MVP.

There is plenty of promise in New Orleans right now after their surprise playoff run and valiant fight against the Phoenix Suns in the first round, all without injured franchise player Zion Williamson. On top of Williamson, the Pelicans boast a wealth of young talent, including Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes, Jose “Grand Theft” Alvarado, Herbert Jones, and Trey Murphy III (all of whom are 24 or younger). Veterans such as CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas could also grease the wheels on a potential trade. Additionally, the Pelicans’ head coach is Willie Green, who previously coached Durant as an assistant in Golden State.

Still, none of that may matter to Durant, who continues to seek a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Durant instead appears to be eyeing another West team that is much closer to title contention right now.

Video: Little kid trash talks Zion Williamson at Pelicans star’s camp

Zion Williamson interacts with a camper

Zion Williamson is riding high after he agreed to a massive contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans last week, but a young kid did his best to knock the former first overall pick down a peg on Thursday.

Williamson is hosting a youth basketball camp at a YMCA in New Orleans. During the first day, a youngster had some hilarious trash talk for Williamson. The boy said his stepfather is as tall as Williamson and plays better defense. Zion wasn’t having it.

At least the kid ended with, “I still think you’re the best player, though.”

Everything about that exchange was hilarious. Most adults would be starstruck meeting an NBA star like Williamson, but that camper was not all that impressed. Maybe Williamson can use the smack talk as motivation next season.

Report: Zion Williamson’s max extension with Pelicans has interesting wrinkle

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 just gave Zion Williamson a major bag, but they are also doing something to protect themselves.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported this week that Williamson’s new max extension from the Pelicans contains injury protections for the team.

“Sources tell me there are protections in Zion Williamson’s max extension, but this is a deal that he wanted to get done,” said Charania while on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “As long as he’s healthy and plays in these games, he’s going to have no problems hitting these benchmarks.”

The former No. 1 overall pick Williamson just obtained a surprisingly sizable deal from the Pelicans earlier this month. But while he is already an All-Star at 21, Williamson missed all of last year due to a foot injury and has only appeared in 85 games overall through his first three NBA seasons.

Along with the injury risk, there have been other red flags with Williamson as well. That much is not lost on the Pelicans however, and they do have a built-in hedge in Williamson’s new contract just in case things goes south.

Report: 1 surprise team hoping to recruit Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant in street clothes

Feb 3, 2020; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets small forward Kevin Durant (7) smiles during a time out during the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Virtually every NBA team will at least want to check in on Kevin Durant after the star demanded a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Some teams will be willing to go further than others, however, and there may be some surprises in the mix.

One of those surprises may be the New Orleans Pelicans. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed on his “Hoop Collective” podcast that the Pelicans are hopeful of being given the chance to recruit Durant, as they believe head coach Willie Green could sell the star on the organization’s vision. Green has a pre-existing connection, as he was an assistant for the Golden State Warriors when Durant played there.

“Here’s the Pelicans’ card they’re going to play, from what I’m told. Willie Green, who is their well-respected, well liked head coach, was an assistant in Golden State when Durant was there. What they would like is for the Nets, if they like the option, to let them speak with Durant, and let Willie attempt to sell the vision that they have and use the relationship that they have,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst did note that there was no guarantee the Nets would permit the Pelicans to meet with Durant, and even if they did, there is no certainty that Durant would be willing to take such a meeting.

This does seem to involve an element of wishful thinking on the Pelicans’ part, though they would theoretically have a decent scenario to offer. They have a solid core of players, including two under-25 stars in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, plus a veteran leader in CJ McCollum. One issue is that it is hard to see how the Pelicans could put together a trade package for Durant without at least one of Ingram or Williamson, at least based on what the Nets are demanding right now. That would arguably defeat the purpose of bringing Durant in as the missing piece.

Most speculation at the moment has one team as the favorite to ultimately land Durant. As long as nothing appears close, however, expect many other organizations to at least try to take a shot.

Pelicans make massive commitment to Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson holds a ball

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

Zion Williamson has battled injuries and weight issues through his first three NBA seasons, but the New Orleans Pelicans are apparently not all that concerned.

Williamson and the Pelicans are close to finalizing a five-year, $231 million extension, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The deal will include some “protections,” likely pertaining to Williamson’s health and conditioning.

Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, has only played in 85 career games. He missed the entire 2021-22 season after he broke a bone in his right foot during summer workouts.

When healthy, Williamson has been as good as advertised. He has averaged 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists during the games he has played.

Williamson has been ridiculed for his fluctuating weight, but some new photos that surfaced appeared to show he is in good shape.

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.