The fans who tuned into ESPN’s pregame coverage of San Antonio and New Orleans Wednesday night got a little extra treat. There was a Zion Williamson sighting on the court. Before the game, Williamson did some on-court work and put on a show for those in attendance, mostly team staff.
But like most things in this social media era, Zion’s display and, most notably, his baseline 360 windmill dunk that was posted to Twitter and shown on national television immediately got a reaction from everyone. It’s always great seeing Williamson on the floor as it looks like his foot injury is healing. But the fancy dunking before the game is just a tease for fans.
At this point, it’s probably best for the Pelicans, who beat the Spurs 113-103, to keep Zion in the background. The team got this far without him since he didn’t suit up for one game during the regular season. Let him get ready for next season and work on getting back in shape. No one needs to watch Williamson warm up like he’s going to play, then go back to the locker room and come out for the opening tip in street clothes. Zion’s suit was dope but still not the attire that helps the Pelicans on the court.
I’m pretty sure commissioner Adam Silver saw Williamson windmilling before the game and probably shook his head in disappointment. Silver knew Zion wasn’t playing in last night’s game, and I’m sure he’s grown frustrated at all these players taking a year or longer to return from injuries. Williamson’s basically been out for a year, just like Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles and Jamal Murray in Denver. Ben Simmons hasn’t played an NBA game in almost a full calendar year, and for James Wiseman, it’s been over a year now.
So, the league cannot be happy with this, coupled with the load managing dilemma they’ve dealt with for about a decade. This happens when the new guy comes in, and his approach is the opposite of the previous commissioner. Former NBA commissioner David Stern ruled like a tyrant, and his word was final. Stern didn’t cater to players for the most part, and Silver has seemingly done nothing but that. Now that player-friendly attitude is continuously biting Silver in the ass. Say what you want, but there isn’t much Silver can do about players load managing. If a player says he’s having back issues, the team basically has to take him at his word. Hmmm, sound familiar?
Watching Zion dunk freely before game time only raises fans’ hope to have it deflated minutes later when his status is the same as it’s been all year. He’s still out indefinitely. I’m honestly wondering if he’ll ever come back as a Pelican. The rumors have floated around for a while now that he might not be happy in New Orleans.
If it’s true about Zion not being happy in the Big Easy, this puts New Orleans in a difficult position. Williamson has so much untapped potential, and he’s still so young at 21 years old. But we know how these situations usually go in the NBA. When the star player is unhappy and no longer wants to be part of the franchise, that guy can almost always force his way out of town. If Zion is tired of the Pelicans organization, it’s only a matter of time before this scenario plays out.
That’s where we are now, and the Pelicans find themselves in muddy waters trying to navigate this whole Zion injury issue. And they aren’t going to get much help from the commissioner’s office, apparently. If Williamson isn’t ready to go by the start of the 2022-23 campaign, then it’ll probably be time for New Orleans to cut their losses and move on.
Don’t get me wrong, it would suck to trade away a player with such upside in his early 20s, but when he’s missing so much time on the court, the team may not have many other options. If a player is so injured that he can’t play games, he doesn’t need to be out on the floor carrying on the way Williamson did before this play-in against the Spurs.
Even if fans aren’t in the arena while he’s warming up, everyone has a camera, and that session will be recorded and distributed online as it was. People see that footage on their way to the game, then once they arrive, Zion is on the sideline in a suit with his flashy jewelry on. It’s not a good look and sends the wrong message to fans. The whole pregame workout in the arena just needs to stop. It’s unnecessary and only serves as a letdown to fans if that player isn’t going to participate in that night’s game.