It appears a teammate of Zion Williamson is openly calling him out without mentioning his name.
New Orleans lost to Oklahoma City in the second game of the Western Conference Play-In Tournament, eliminating the team from playoff contention. The Pelicans were missing a number of players that included Jose Alvarado, Larry Nance Jr., and Zion Williamson, who hadn’t played since suffering a hamstring injury on Jan. 2nd.
Pelicans guard CJ McCollum revealed after the game that he had been dealing with a thumb injury for months and delayed surgery because he wanted to help New Orleans reach the playoffs. He said that injury affected him in their play-in loss.
While McCollum didn’t specifically name Williamson during his postgame media availability, he did share some points with reporters, saying that the Pelicans “need our best players on the court.”
McCollum added that he could have taken “the easy way out and gotten surgery” much earlier, but he’s “not that type of person, not that type of player.”
“Even though [the injury] affected my performance some nights, I never made excuses,” McCollum said. “I just go compete and do the best that I can and always try to lead by example.”
Those comments came 24 hours after Williamson discussed his rehabilitation process and explained why he hadn’t yet returned to the court.
“I can pretty much do everything, but it’s just a matter of the level that I was playing at before my hamstring [injury],” Williamson said. “I’m just a competitor. I don’t want to go out there and be in my own head and affect the team when I can just be on the sideline supporting them more.
“I know myself. If I was to go out there, I would be in my head. I would hesitate on certain moves, and that could affect the game.”
The Pelicans were in third place in the Western Conference standings at the time of Williamson’s injury, but would fall off a cliff and land in ninth place, forcing them to enter the Play-In Tournament.
McCollum was asked point blank if Williamson’s absence for the play-in was a distraction for the team.
“I just do my job, I show up, I play with my son, and be a husband to my wife,” said McCollum. “This is a great job, I really enjoy it but I don’t want to get caught up in that stuff. I stay in my lane, walk my dog and enjoy the sunshine.”
McCollum, Williamson, and Brandon Ingram only played in 10 games together this season.
As for Williamson, he signed a five-year, $193 million extension with the Pelicans last year. That deal runs through the 2027-28 season.
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