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#pounditMonday, December 6, 2021

Articles tagged: New Orleans Pelicans

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

Report: David Griffin had heated run-in with former Pelicans coach

David Griffin

As if David Griffin wasn’t already under enough scrutiny, now he is the subject of a WWE-like storyline.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported this week that the New Orleans Pelicans executive had a heated run-in with former Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry during a recent home game. Gentry, who is now the associate head coach for the Sacramento Kings, was in New Orleans on Oct. 29 for Sacramento’s contest against the Pelicans. After the game, a 113-109 victory for the Kings, Griffin reportedly approached Gentry to offer a warm hello. However, Gentry brushed off his efforts as inauthentic.

Gentry was apparently upset about a recent article by NOLA.com claiming that Griffin used to lament to team and league officials that he would give Gentry “all the answers to the test, and he still fails.” Griffin reportedly denied the findings of the article to Gentry, but Gentry replied back with some choice words.

“You must not have given Stan the answers to the test, either,” an irritated Gentry allegedly shouted at Griffin during the run-in. This was a reference to Stan Van Gundy, who succeeded Gentry as coach of the Pelicans but was fired after just one season as well. Fischer adds that the two men then had to be separated.

Gentry was head coach of the Pelicans for five seasons from 2015 to 2020. Griffin arrived as New Orleans’ head of basketball operations in 2019 but fired Gentry after just one season of working together. Fischer’s report adds that Griffin was widely known to covet Tyronn Lue, his former colleague on the Cleveland Cavaliers, instead of Gentry.

The Pelicans have not exactly fared well since Gentry’s firing. Under Van Gundy last season, they went 31-41 and did not even qualify for the play-in tournament. Under new head coach Willie Green, the Pelicans are now a league-worst 1-11 this season. They have also faced questions about their handling of superstar Zion Williamson’s injury. Now they can add some more bad press for the embattled Griffin to their list of woes.

Photo: Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New Orleans Pelicans general manager David Griffin in attendance against the New York Knicks during an NBA Summer League game at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball has unflattering comment about former team

Lonzo Ball warming up

Lonzo Ball’s former teammates might not be too happy about a recent comment that he made.

The Chicago Bulls released a video to YouTube this week giving a behind-the-scenes look of their start to the season. The video included a clip of Ball addressing his teammates during practice ahead of Chicago’s opening game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Ball’s old team. Ball shared his scouting report on the Pelicans and made an unflattering remark about them.

“They don’t really wanna pass the ball,” he said. ” BI [Brandon Ingram] is trying to get to the mid-range, and Nickeil [Alexander-Walker] wants to get to the layup.”

Ball was with the Pelicans for the last two seasons and had been teammates with Ingram in particular for his entire career, dating back to their time on the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls would go on to win that game 128-112.

The difference has to feel stark for the former No. 2 overall pick Ball. After going a combined 61-83 (.424) in New Orleans, Ball has now helped lead the Bulls to a 6-1 record, tied for best in the NBA. Ball also had more shade for the Pelicans right after he left, so it sounds like there is no love lost there.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Has Zion Williamson’s weight become an issue again?

Zion Williamson shooting in practice

Zion Williamson will miss the start of the regular season due to an injury for the second time in his three years in the NBA, and that has once again led to concerns about the former first overall pick’s weight.

Williamson is one of the bulkier players in the NBA. He is listed at 284 pounds, which is quite the build considering he is 6-foot-6. The New Orleans Pelicans announced last week that Williamson will not play at the start of the year, as he is still recovering from foot surgery he underwent during the summer. According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, Williamson has let his weight get away from him again while rehabbing.

When Williamson traveled to Minnesota recently for the Pelicans’ preseason game against the Timberwolves, NBA personnel were said to be “struck by his heavier appearance.” Sources told Fischer that Williamson weighs over 300 pounds.

“I know Zion at 280, and he was not 280,” one person who saw Williamson said.

Williamson missed several weeks at the start of his rookie season two years ago due to a knee injury. If you remember, there was a report that even Nike — his biggest sponsor — was concerned about his weight. The talk resurfaced during the NBA bubble in Orlando, though Williamson supposedly slimmed down again after that.

The trend is obviously a troubling one. Weight issues and foot injuries tend to go hand-in-hand. That’s why centers and bigger forwards are often worst affected by them.

The Pelicans contradicted themselves recently with their timeline for Williamson’s return. There has been speculation that they could have him on a minutes restriction when he’s cleared, which is something to monitor given that Williamson was reportedly frustrated at one point with how the Pelicans handled one of his injuries.

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 contradicting themselves about Zion Williamson’s health

Zion Williamson shooting in practice

Zion Williamson’s health is now officially a cause for concern, and the New Orleans Pelicans’ statements about it are complicating matters even further.

Pelicans executive David Griffin announced Thursday that Williamson will miss the start of the regular season with his foot injury. The All-Star forward will be re-evaluated in two weeks and currently has no timetable to return.

The injury is not a new one, as Griffin told the media roughly three weeks ago that Williamson underwent surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot suffered earlier in the summer. But at the time, Griffin said that Williamson’s timeline “should get him back on the court in time for the regular season.”

On Thursday though, Griffin tried to backtrack by saying that he had meant Williamson would be back some time during the regular season, not at the start. Griffin also said that “nothing has gone wrong” with Williamson in terms of a setback since his earlier comments.

Any reasonable person would take Griffin’s “in time for the regular season” comment to mean the start of the regular season. If player was expected out until March (still technically the regular season), nobody would say of him before the season began, “We expect him back on the court in time for the regular season.” Thus, Griffin’s comments come across as confusing and self-contradictory, especially since Williamson did not suffer a setback.

What is even more concerning is that Williamson reportedly was already unhappy with the way that Griffin and the Pelicans handled an injury that he had in his rookie season. The Pelicans’ conflicting comments about his latest injury bring to mind the Grand Theft Auto “here we go again” meme.

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 employees compared David Griffin to Jerry Krause

David Griffin

The New Orleans Pelicans made a big splash when they hired David Griffin to run their basketball operations department in 2019. Griffin is viewed as one of the better executives in the NBA after he built a championship team around LeBron James in Cleveland, but apparently those who work with him are not all that fond of him.

Christian Clark of NOLA.com published a lengthy article on Wednesday that pulled back the curtain on some of the supposed dysfunction that exists within the Pelicans organization. Clark was told by sources that some team employees have grown to “actively dislike” Griffin. One of the ways they expressed that to one another was by referring to Griffin as “Griff Krause.”

That is a reference to Jerry Krause, who was the general manager of the Chicago Bulls when they won six titles. Krause has widely been blamed for breaking up the Bulls dynasty. He butted heads with Michael Jordan over personnel moves and alienated Phil Jackson. Some of the issues with Krause were highlighted in “The Last Dance” documentary series last year, though he is not alive to share his side of the story.

According to Clark, people with the Pelicans were unhappy with how Griffin handled Alvin Gentry’s firing after the 2019-20 season. Griffin blamed Gentry for New Orleans’ struggles earlier that season, though some did not feel the head coach was at fault. In one exchange, Griffin supposedly arrogantly told someone, “I give Alvin all the answers to the test, and he still fails.”

There were also issues between Zion Williamson and Griffin. The former No. 1 overall pick was reportedly unhappy with the way the Pelicans handled his knee injury his rookie year, which led to him having a poor relationship with Griffin.

Believe it or not, Griffin is not the only executive who has been mocked using the Krause comparison.

The Pelicans fired Stan Van Gundy after one season and have replaced him with Willie Green. Their young roster, lead by Williamson and Brandon Ingram, has a lot of talent. If the team continues to struggle, the internal issues with Griffin could come to a boil.

Chris Paul came close to returning to New Orleans?

Chris Paul Suns

New Orleans’ prodigal son very nearly made his way home this offseason.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN said this week on “The Hoop Collective” podcast that the New Orleans Pelicans offered Paul a three-year, $100 million deal. Windhorst adds that the 11-time All-Star appeared to have entertained the offer for some time. But the Suns ended up giving Paul a $120 million contract with a partially-guaranteed fourth year, which he accepted.

Paul, now 36, was drafted by New Orleans in 2005 and played the first six seasons of his career with them back when they were still the Hornets. The team just hired former Suns assistant Willie Green to be their next head coach. They also would have been able to complement Paul with a young core led by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

That said, Paul just made the Finals with Phoenix’s fine young core of their own led by Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. With his new deal paying him until age 40, it was simply too good for Paul to walk away from, despite New Orleans’ best efforts to bring him home.

H/T RealGM