After being traded by the Portland Trail Blazers to the New Orleans Pelicans ahead of the trade deadline, guard CJ McCollum recently said the one player he had yet to hear from since the deal was new teammate Zion Williamson. However, since his interview on TNT during All-Star Weekend, McCollum said Williamson has reached out to him and the two have spoken, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews on Tuesday.
The big man hasn’t played at all this season as he’s had several setbacks in his rehab process following foot surgery, and most recently has been recovering away from the team in Portland. Williamson not reaching out to McCollum right after the trade didn’t sit well with former Pelicans JJ Redick, who finds the whole situation “insane.”
“This is a little bit insane to me. There’s a general decorum of behavior that you should apply as a teammate,” Redick said Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “I wasn’t the best player on any team I was on, but if there was a buyout possibility, a trade possibility, I would always reach out to teammates. This just shows a complete lack of investment in your team, in the organization in the city. I get that he’s [Zion] hurt and away from the team, but you just traded for one of the 50 best players in the league. A guy that’s supposed to be paired with you. Reach out and say hello.”
The retired 15-year NBA veteran also said Williamson’s behavior isn’t all that surprising based on his experience playing with the young forward for half a season.
“This is a pattern of behavior with Zion that we are seeing again and again,” Redick said. “I was his teammate. I can describe him as a detached teammate. That is an accurate statement. This is basic level of humanity being a teammate. Send a text to a guy when he gets traded to your team. That is just normal behavior. That’s the bare minimum that you have to do. And the Pelicans yesterday sent out an email for season tickets for next year, and guess whose name was not in the email? Zion’s. What the heck is going on in New Orleans?”
Redick is right. The Pelicans did recently send out an email for season tickets where Brandon Ingram, McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas were all mentioned to show that New Orleans is “building something special.” It is quite strange that Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 and by far the team’s best player when healthy, wasn’t mentioned in that email to send to prospective season ticket holders. It strongly hints that all may not be well between Williamson and the Pelicans. Though the former Duke product did eventually reach out to McCollum, it was only after it was made public that he hadn’t been in contact with his new teammate.
This isn’t the first time there’s been some reported issues with the Pelicans and Williamson. Over the summer it was reported that Williamson’s family wasn’t happy with the direction of the franchise, and wanted him on a different squad. While that didn’t come directly from the Pelicans forward, his family talking negatively about the organization still isn’t ideal. If Redick’s depiction of Williamson is accurate as a “detached teammate,” that also doesn’t help quell thoughts to think that perhaps he does want to play somewhere else.
Courtesy: CBS Sports