CJ McCollum has defended his new Pelicans teammate Zion Williamson after harsh criticism from the media. Former NBA player JJ Redick had previously attacked the youngster.
“Leave the young man alone,” McCollum said in an interview with Christian Clark (nola.com). “He’s just trying to calmly work on his comeback. He’s a very talented player but he’s going through a lot. You shine the spotlight on him every day.”
Over the All-Star weekend, McCollum revealed he hadn’t spoken to Zion after his trade from the Portland Trail Blazers to the New Orleans Pelicans. This fact caused incomprehension among others for JJ Redick, who had played with Zion for the Pelicans for almost two years.
“As an athlete who plays a team sport, you have a responsibility to be totally committed to it,” said Redick First Take. “You have to give yourself completely to your body, your work and your teammates. That’s your responsibility and we haven’t seen it from Zion before.”
“It just goes to show that Zion doesn’t think about this team, the city, or the franchise at all,” concluded Redick. “I understand he’s injured and he’s not with the team right now, but you just traded for one of the top 50 players in the league. A player who was brought in to put him at your side. You contact them and ask You see that behavior from him again and again. I was his team-mate and I can say he’s a distant teammate.”
McCollum confirmed on Thursday that he has now been in touch with the 21-year-old franchise star: “We’ve spoken and I’ll be in touch with him again this week or next to get an update. If he comes back, we will we’ll welcome him with open arms.”
Zion Williamson is doing his rehab in Portland
However, it is still unclear when that will be the case. nba/2202/News/pelicans-youngster-zion-williamson-zweite-fuss-op-verletzung-operation.html">Williamson fractured his metatarsal last offseason and required surgery. Since then, several setbacks in the healing process have thrown him back, which is why he has not played for New Orleans so far this season. According to Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) Williamson is currently in consultation with the Pelicans in Portland, where he is completing his rehab.
“When he was on the pitch he was outstanding, it’s amazing to watch him. There are things he does that nobody else can do,” said Redick. “But as a teammate, his behavior isn’t right. And that worries you.”
Last season, Zion averaged 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 33.2 minutes in 61 games and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career.