The New Orleans Pelicans are about to hire their third head coach since drafting Zion Williamson No. 1 overall, and his family is fed up with the franchise’s dysfunction.
According to an extensive report in The Athletic from Thursday, Williamson’s family wants the young superstar to play for a different team.
The report also states, “Sources from all NBA corners have pointed to the Pelicans as a heap of dysfunction.”
Yikes. There’s a common saying that no press is bad press, but in this instance, New Orleans is being painted as a wildly incompetent setting for Zion to realize his full potential.
These revelations come on the heels of the Pelicans firing head coach Stan Van Gundy after only one season, which in and of itself, suggests a problematic situation all around. Van Gundy didn’t mesh well with his players as the team struggled to a 31-41 record this season, and now the search is on for yet another new voice in the locker room.
At least for his part, Williamson showed marked improvement in terms of physical conditioning and consistency as an NBA sophomore. He averaged 27 points per contest on 61% shooting, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists, showing off upside as a distributor in addition to being an unparalleled force in the paint.
Zion Williamson and family must stick out one more New Orleans Pelicans coaching change
Considering that Williamson is under contract for three more seasons, it’d be extremely complicated to get a trade done that would yield the proper compensation for the Pelicans.
Thursday’s report says Williamson remains dedicated to delivering a winner for New Orleans despite his family’s qualms with the organization — including the lack of special treatment for a star player and Van Gundy’s grating and demanding personality.
Williamson himself got irked when the Pelicans traded veteran sharpshooter JJ Redick, who’d emerged as one of the few viable mentors the 20-year-old prodigy could count on. Redick was also incensed by the deal, for what it’s worth. There’s another sign of dysfunction.
Despite all this chaos, Williamson almost has no choice but to see how New Orleans brings aboard to lead his squad. His salary isn’t compatible in a trade, unless the Pelicans were to swap him with another young, rising superstar who’d also want a change of scenery.
That’d take a lot of convincing. Imagine telling one young star who wants out that they’re going to a team where another young star wanted out.
Provided that New Orleans can hang onto restricted free agent Lonzo Ball this offseason, allow him to develop alongside Williamson and Brandon Ingram, and the Pelicans actually hire the right coach, they should be in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next season.