New Orleans Pelicans star Tsion Williamson has been absent from the field this season with a foot injury, but according to JJ Redick, Williamson has been absent from his teammates throughout his time in the NBA.
“There is a responsibility on you as an athlete when you play a team sport to invest fully. You invest completely in your body, you invest completely in your work and you invest completely in your teammates. That is your responsibility and we haven’t seen that from Zion,” Redick said Tuesday at First Take.
Riddick and Williamson had been teammates with the Pelicans for parts of the past two seasons before Riddick announced his retirement and joined ESPN as an NBA analyst prior to this season.
Riddick said he expressed his concerns with Williamson while in New Orleans.
“This is something I addressed with Zion in front of the team,” Riddick said. “This goes back to his rookie year.”
“This is a pattern of behavior with Zion that we see over and over again. I was his teammate, I can describe him as a separate teammate, and that’s an accurate statement.”
Williamson’s potential problems as a teammate came into public view during last weekend’s All-Star Celebrations when CJ McCollum said he had not spoken to Williamson since he was traded to New Orleans from Portland on the trade deadline.
“I haven’t had direct conversations with him,” McCollum said Saturday night. “I’ve spoken to some of those close to him and look forward to sitting down with him sooner rather than later.” “I know as much as you do now, but I will get to the bottom of it.”
Riddick said Williamson’s silence towards McCollum was part of a “pattern of behaviour”.
“It shows the complete lack of investment in your team, in the organization, in the city,” Riddick said. “I understand he’s injured and out of the team, but you just traded one of the top 50 players in the league – a guy who’s supposed to be with you. Reach out and say, ‘Hey.’ That’s a pattern of behavior with Zion that we see over and over again. I was his teammate, and I could He described him as a separate teammate, and that’s an accurate statement.”
Williamson has not played this season after sustaining a broken right foot that required surgery during the summer. After there was initial optimism that Williamson would return at the start of the season, his return has been delayed several times. He’s currently working on his rehab away from the team, with sources telling ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Williamson is rehab in Portland, Oregon, with the Pelican’s blessing.
When Williamson was healthy, he was a strength. He averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists while playing 61 of the team’s 72 games last season.
“Yeah, he was great when he was on the court – 100%. It’s amazing to watch. Nobody can do what he does on the basketball court…but as a teammate there is a pattern of behaviour, like an individual fully invested in NEO. Orleans, there is a pattern of behavior,” Riddick said. “This is worrying.”
Information from ESPN’s Andrew Lopez was used in this report.