According to reports, the NBA franchise sent out marketing materials to their season-ticket holders on Monday (February 21) which showcased the Pelicans’ top players including Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum, recently acquired from the Portland Trailblazers – but included nothing on Williamson. The omission was noticeable and has sparked a flurry of speculation that the team is preparing for a future without the third-year forward.
Williamson has been noticeably absent from the team for most of the season as he is dealing with a fracture in his right foot that required off-season surgery, and there have been questions about his commitment to the Pelicans and his teammates as McCollum revealed that he has yet to speak with Zion since he’s been traded to the team. “I haven’t had conversations with him directly. … I’ve spoken with some people close to him and look forward to sitting down with him sooner than later,” McCollum said Saturday night when interviewed during the All-Star Weekend festivities in Cleveland. “I know about as much as you do right now, but I’m gonna get to the bottom of it.” Williamson is reportedly in Portland, Oregon rehabbing his foot, which was approved by the team at the outset of the season. McCollum did tell NBA Today host Malika Andrews that he and Williamson did speak on Tuesday.
The omission points to the possibility that the Pelicans aren’t investing too much in the hopes that Williamson will be that featured franchise player next season. Former teammate J.J. Redick, who retired to be an analyst covering the NBA on ESPN, called out Williamson’s lack of communication as a “pattern of behavior” – one that he says he’s addressed with him when they were playing.
“This just shows a complete lack of investment in your team, in the organization, in the city,” Redick said. “I get that he’s hurt and away from the team, but you just traded for one of the 50 best players in the league — a guy that’s supposed to be paired with you. Reach out and say, ‘Hello.’ This is a pattern of behavior with Zion that we are seeing again and again. I was his teammate, I can describe him as a detached teammate, that is an accurate statement.”