We’re just days away from media day (9/27) and the start of training camp (9/28) so let’s catch up on the latest news surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans.
If you missed it yesterday, Christian Clark of Nola.com published an in-depth article concentrating on David Griffin’s rocky tenure to date through the lens of multiple former and current employees within the organization. The Bird Writes will not divulge all the interesting details — so please give the piece a read and support local journalism in the process, but we will highlight the lack of a solid relationship between Griff and Zion Williamson.
Throughout his rookie season, Williamson had grown increasingly frustrated with the Pelicans for the number of hoops they required him to jump through to return from the knee injury he suffered in the preseason. The team initially provided a return-to-play timetable of six to eight weeks, but it took more than three months for Williamson to get back on the floor. When he was finally given the thumbs up to play, he was placed on “burst” limits, which he detested. The way Williamson’s return was handled caused significant tension between him and the team’s medical staff, sources said.
Williamson’s relationship with Griffin had also begun to sour. Although they communicate infrequently now, Griffin tried hard in Williamson’s rookie year to forge a bond. One example: During the Pelicans’ bubble stay, Griffin asked to meet with Williamson and played the piano for him.
The fact that the executive vice president of basketball operations and the team’s most vaunted player are not on the friendliest terms is seemingly not for a lack of effort. The Pelicans have also made attempts to shield Williamson from further public scrutiny as evidenced by not disclosing a hamstring injury in the bubble.
Publicly, the Pelicans said Williamson left the bubble to deal with a family medical issue; while there was no reason to doubt that, team sources said Williamson had suffered a hamstring injury, which the Pelicans didn’t disclose.
On a more upbeat note, Jaxson Hayes will not be charged with any felonies by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office stemming from a July 28 encounter with Los Angeles police officers, per TMZ.
Still, Hayes isn’t totally out of the water criminally ... it’s still possible the city attorney could levy a misdemeanor charge(s) against Jaxson.
As for the LAPD’s investigation into whether excessive force was used, it remains ongoing.
Hayes has been around teammates in voluntary workouts this month and the reports are glowing.
This week, Murphy and several of his teammates are in Nashville, where they are working out together. In day one of the team’s unofficial mini-camp, Murphy said center Jaxson Hayes’ shooting ability stood out.
As for another young Pelican making strong impressions on the court, there have been numerous Instagram posts of Nickeil Alexander-Walker displaying his growing skillset this summer. In addition, he’s showing signs of greater leadership on the team.
I know Pelicans twitter needs some positive news so let me share this.— Shamit Dua (@FearTheBrown) September 23, 2021
Nickeil Alexander-Walker led a team dinner in Nashville, after which they all went out. Garrett Temple apparently was the first to do so and inspired NAW to do one of his own.
With last season’s starting backcourt of Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe now in other cities, Alexander-Walker has as good of a chance as any of the rest of the guards on the New Orleans roster to seize one of those openings.