Ever since Zion Williamson, the most hyped NBA prospect since LeBron James, unceremoniously went to New Orleans instead of New York in 2019, pundits and fans alike have been counting down the days until he left town for greener pastures.
Now, according to local newspaper reports, those rumors appear to be well-founded. The Times Picayune reported that Williamson and team president David Griffin barely even speak, and that the tension arose extremely early in the professional relationship.
“Throughout his rookie season, Williamson had grown increasingly frustrated with the Pelicans for the number of hoops they required him to jump through to return from the knee injury he suffered in the preseason. The team initially provided a return-to-play timetable of six to eight weeks, but it took more than three months for Williamson to get back on the floor. When he was finally given the thumbs up to play, he was placed on ‘burst’ limits, which he detested. The way Williamson’s return was handled caused significant tension between him and the team’s medical staff,” sources said.
The reports went on to address rumors that Williamson has dealt with other injuries that he wanted to keep from media, and the fact that he has shown up overweight in each of his previous preseasons (including the 2020 bubble season). Now, Williamson has apparently missed offseason workouts, doesn’t speak to front office personnel, and allegedly has very little relationship with his teammates, either.
For a NBA superstar in the making, Williamson seems to show very little interest in doing any of the things it takes to make the leap from talented to elite. Between he and Anthony Davis, who was also known as a superstar who lacked real leadership qualities, the Pelicans have faced some tough sledding in the last few years in terms of personality luck.