Former NBA player JJ Redick said Zion Williamson has to get in better shape.
Williamson is out while recovering from a foot surgery amid rumors that he weighs over 300 lb.
There have been reports of tension between the Pelicans and Williamson and his family.
Zion Williamson has been a dynamic force when he’s on the court, but unfortunately, he has not been on the court all that often.
Williamson has not played this season while he recovers from offseason foot surgery.
In the meantime, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that members of the Pelicans had grown concerned with Williamson’s weight, with one source telling Fischer he believed the 6-foot-6 Williamson weighed over 300 lb.
Williamson is listed at 284 lb.
Speaking on an ESPN media call on Monday, recently retired NBA player JJ Redick, who played 1.5 seasons with the Pelicans, said Williamson needs to get in better shape.
“Zion has to be in better shape,” Redick said. “That’s not a secret. And he’s gotta get healthy.”
Williamson joined Redick’s podcast in March and said he felt he could improve his conditioning but worried about getting too light.
“I do think there is another gear that I can reach regarding my weight and conditioning,” Williamson said. “But I think it’s like you said, it’s finding it. Because I don’t want to get to a spot where I’m like, ‘Yeah, I lost a lot of weight, but I don’t feel strong. I can’t do certain things that I would do before.’ I think it’s just finding it. I do think there is another gear I can reach regarding both weight and conditioning.”
On Monday, Redick said Pelicans fans have cause to be concerned about the potential direction Williamson and the Pelicans are heading.
The Athletic reported in June that Williamson’s family has been unhappy in New Orleans and was often upset about the coaching style of Stan Van Gundy (who the Pelicans fired after the 2019-20 season).
Both Williamson and his family have reportedly been upset with how the team has handled his injuries. Williamson faced a slow ramp-up while returning from a knee injury his rookie year, during which he only played 24 games. When he returned, he faced a strict minutes restriction, even sitting out the final minutes of close games with playoff implications.
Furthermore, according to The Athletic, Williamson was bothered by the Pelicans trading Redick last season. Redick blasted the Pelicans on his podcast last March because he believed he had an understanding that the team would trade him to be closer to his family in New York before trading him to Dallas. Redick said he didn’t think players and agents could get “honesty” from the front office.
Pelicans GM David Griffin faced criticism this October when he said Williamson wouldn’t be ready for the start of the regular season after previously implying otherwise.
Redick on Monday did say he believes the future is promising for New Orleans if Williamson can get and stay on the floor. Over two seasons, the Pelicans are 40-45 with Williamson active. Last year, they outscored teams by an average of 2 points per 100 possessions with Williamson on the court, a big deal for a team with a negative net rating for the season.
However, on Monday, Pelicans head coach Willie Green told reporters that Williamson is still not cleared to play 5-on-5 basketball and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
At 1-6, without their best player, things in New Orleans might still get uglier.
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