If the alarm bells rang before Zion Williamson’s last injury setback, the sirens will go off.
The New Orleans Pelicans confirmed last weekend that scans showed regression in bone healing in his fifth metatarsal after the star striker experienced pain in his right foot.
As a result, Williamson’s training load will be reduced for an “extended period”, sidelining former Pick 1 indefinitely and seriously doubting him to play at all this season.
It comes after Williamson originally targeted a return to the pitch after an off-season surgery in December but is now essentially back in first place, about 30 games in the campaign.
From, 16 Dec
Thursday December 16
It should be noted that two-time MVP Kevin Durant had similar complications in 2015/2015 with a foot injury that required multiple surgeries, which made it possible for Williamson to go under the knife again.
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So that the injury has gotten worse is a big danger sign for Williamson, who now misses more NBA games (87) than he has played (85), especially given the question marks surrounding his stamina.
NBA legend Jalen Rose told the story ESPN he didn’t think Williamson would return this season, considering how difficult it will be to get back to his best physical shape.
“When you can’t play, especially with lower extremity injuries, your physique makes it really difficult to keep your weight down and stay in shape,” he said.
The situation is compounded by multiple reports of Williamson’s frustrations with the Pelicans and David Griffin, vice president of basketball operations, about the way the team handled his knee injury in his rookie season, as well as how there isn’t a competitive team around him has set up, added.
So where to go with Williamson and the pelicans? It created a unique dynamic.
Williamson is eligible to sign its $ 181 million maximum rookie renewal over five years at the end of the season.
The Pelicans have already exercised their player option on Williamson’s contract, which means he is guaranteed to play for the team in the 2023/24 season regardless of whether or not he signs an extension.
Then the best New Orleans can do is make him a qualifying offer of $ 17.5 million – the largest in NBA history. But if Williamson refuses, he will become a restricted free agent in 2023 and an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
If his injury problems persist and he misses 41 games next season, the qualifying offer will drop to $ 7.5 million. pro ESPN.
Such a situation could lead the Pelicans to strike a deal similar to that of Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid, which includes injury-related opt-outs.
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Embiid suspended his first two seasons when he entered the league while Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin missed their rookie campaigns, but all three returned from their injuries and went on to become multiple All-Stars.
But then there are also cases like Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, whose careers were tragically interrupted by an injury.
Whether or not Williamson sees his future in New Orleans, he reportedly wants to get back on the field as soon as possible ahead of important contract talks for his future.
“He wants to play basketball, this is not a situation where he’s just trying to sit. It hurts him that he can’t play, “Pelicans beat writer Lopez said on the Lowe Post Podcast.
“I could see him play the last 25 or so games if he’s available.”
It comes after ESPNs Tim MacMahon said Williamson could weigh up to 330 pounds (150 kg), which would make a return to court a much longer trail.
But Lopez revealed that Williamson had reduced and increased his stamina before his final setback and that the Pelicans are hoping he will return this season.
“That’s long gone, he weighs less than 330 pounds. He came to Media Day bigger than normal because he couldn’t run or do anything for three or four months, ”said Lopez.
“The guy I’m seeing has his playing weight from last year. You look at him without a hoodie and all those extra baggy clothes, he looks like the guy who played in games last season.
“At the moment they still believe that Zion will have a chance to play this season.”
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Lopez acknowledged that Williamson, listed at 284 pounds (128 kg), still had “ways to go” with his fitness level, emphasizing that it would still be a lot of weight to put weight on his foot even if it was 20 pounds (nine kg) would lose weight.
The Pelicans reportedly see this as a solvable problem, despite questions about the former Duke star’s massive physique, who is out of college.
Lopez also said the pelicans understand that Williamson needs a “LeBron James-esque” level of commitment to his conditioning – something the young man has been criticized for based on reports of skipping rehab workouts and falling asleep during movie sessions – to have a long NBA career.
His setback was the biggest blow to the Pelicans in a disaster season the team went into with playoff hopes but currently ranks bottom in the Western Conference rankings with an 8-21 record and third in the entire NBA.
And even if Williamson miraculously returns later in the season, the Pelicans’ playoff hopes could be dashed by then if they aren’t already.
So, while Williamson is pushing to get back on the pitch, New Orleans could start prioritizing the development of its young players and getting the best possible draft pick, or in other words, refueling.
“There are a number of top 3 lottery odds (and the pelicans say, ‘Let’s try again,’” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on the Lowe Post podcast.
“They’re designed to win now, they’re trying to win now. I don’t know that they have an intentional tank in them, but they are currently the third worst overall. ”
This puts the organization in a precarious position where ultimately it might be ideal not to play against Williamson, given the reported friction that had arisen with him the last time the team dealt with his injury.
Bleacher Reports Jake Fischer reported Wednesday that the Pelicans “will still be buying before the trading deadline to compete for the play-in tournament”.
But even with a healthy Williamson all season and a win-now mentality, the Pelicans may not yet be a playoff team with the current roster.
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Hence, taking advantage of the odds might indeed be the best way to get a high draft pick.
Locked On PelikanePodcast host Jake Madison pointed out that there are advantages and disadvantages to refueling in New Orleans.
On the one hand, he points out that it improves the pelicans’ lottery chances for a team that is already losing games. So in the long run there is an advantage in developing young players versus players like Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple.
“Young guys getting reps isn’t necessarily a bad thing … if you’re trying to win games, you do, but they (the veterans) don’t help you actually win games so much, so it’s not you.” also reachable, ”he said.
“All you do is lose while you bury your young people in the bench and they don’t have minutes on an NBA court to just make mistakes, figure out things where the stakes don’t really matter, and it is okay if they do. ” .
“That doesn’t seem like the smartest thing about the long-term thinking of this franchise. You’ve even heard that ‘Grif’ (David Griffin) wanted the young boys to be played last year, but they won’t be played this year if you don’t have Zion. There’s a bit of inconsistency there. “
On the flip side, Madison said the next draft is “mediocre” so it might be an unwise season to refuel, and also questioned what message it sends to Williamson and the other key players on the team like Brandon Ingram.
“If you end up with the fourth or fifth overall pick and you don’t match that other blue-chip contender alongside Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, have you achieved anything you wanted to achieve?” He posed.
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“And by deliberately losing what message you are sending to Zion, who is a bit chilly with the team at the moment, has a metaphorical distance between him and the organization… whose camp on this team doesn’t look like? in the most favorable light and thinks they are a bit disorganized and dysfunctional. ”
The Williamson saga will be an interesting sideshow for the rest of the season, and even more intriguing in the end when he has to make a big phone call about his future.
but ESPNs Stephen A. Smith believes it is an accomplished fact that he will leave the pelicans at some point.
“Zion Williamson won’t be playing for the New Orleans Pelicans in two years. I think he’s not that keen on playing for this franchise. Somebody has to say it, somebody has to put it out, ”he said ESPN.
“When you consider who he is, what he is like at the box office and what he brings to the table … (I have) no inside information, just my beliefs. He’s not that excited about playing for New Orleans. “
Jalen Rose looked at it from the pelicans’ side, believing that given the complications he was facing, the organization might be happy to see him leave at this point.
He even suggested that this could get New Orleans’ place in the NBA overall in trouble and open the door for another city to enter a new franchise.
“I don’t think the team will give him a rookie extension on his deal,” said Rose. “Which will now call its future into question as this team moves forward.”
“If you lose Zion soon, you might as well lose the team. Seattle, on line one. “