1. Guess Zion Williamson’s weight
It’s worrisome that Zion has yet to play a game this season. He was cleared to practice the other week but has suffered a major setback due to persistent soreness in his surgically repaired right foot.
Now fans are wondering whether the repeated delays in his rehab has something to do with his weight. A photo taken during a recent Pelicans game fanned those theories, as Zion looks to have doubled down on his Jabba the Hutt-esque appetite.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon added fuel to the fire during his appearance on The Lowe Post podcast this week, claiming from sources that the New Orleans Pelicans star has soared to 330 pounds. For comparison, Shaquille O’Neal’s playing weight at 21 was 325 pounds. Shaq is also 7’1”, while Zion is only 6’6”.
In an unexpected plot twist, another Zion photo made the rounds a couple of days later. This time, Zion appears to be in great physical shape, seemingly debunking the claims about his weight.
So which is which? It’s either the tracksuit adds 50 pounds or Zion is an expert at posing at flattering angles. I guess we’ll just have to weight… er, wait… until Zion returns to action. For the sake of the conference-worst Pelicans, I hope it’s sooner rather than later.
2. No need to guess Luka’s
Among today’s young superstars, Luka Doncic is the one guy with serious GOAT potential. He’s only 22 and has already made two All-NBA First Teams with playoff heroics to boot. He entered this season as the odds-on favorite to win the MVP, just as he did last year. But it doesn’t look like he’s winning it either, and his conditioning—again—may be the reason why.
During the Mavs’ game against Brooklyn last Tuesday, TNT’s Reggie Miller talked about Doncic’s stamina, and noted that “this is the heaviest I’ve probably ever seen Luka look, right now.” He added, “I know he’s had a long year with the Olympics, but look how he’s plodding up and down; he’s not really running.”
Doncic reportedly showed up at the Mavs training camp weighing in at around 260 pounds, which is some 30 pounds above his listed playing weight. To Luka’s credit, he owned up to it and acknowledged that he’s got to do better.
“I had a long summer,” Doncic said after the game, “I had the Olympics, took three weeks off, relaxed a little bit. Maybe too much. I’ve just got to get back on track.”
He looked gassed at the end of their first round series against the Clippers, as well as in the knockout rounds of the Olympics, so concerns about his stamina is nothing new. At 22, his high metabolism probably compensates for his general lack of conditioning, but as many of us over the age of 25 found out, metabolism will dessert… desert, dammit… you faster than a Frenchman.
3. The Pacers are looking to sell
The Athletic reported that the Pacers are moving toward a significant rebuild and are expected to begin trade conversations involving some of their key veterans. The Pacers are currently 13th in the East with a 12-16 record, 1.5 games behind Boston for the last play-in spot.
The Pacers are reportedly entertaining offers from rival teams centering around two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis, guard Caris LeVert, and center Myles Turner. Sabonis is the Pacers’ best player and is averaging 18.2 points and 11.9 boards while shooting 58.4% from the field. LeVert (15.5 points) and Turner (13.1 points, 7.4 rebounds) are both solid players who could become key contributors for contenders.
3.a. The Warriors are not buying
It’s almost mid-December and Golden State is still battling for the best record in the league, half a game behind Phoenix. Oh, and Klay Thompson still hasn’t played a single minute. It’s safe to say that their early season success is no fluke and it looks like they don’t plan on messing about with the group’s chemistry.
Amidst suggestions that they could trade last year’s second overall pick James Wiseman for an immediate impact guy to further bolster their title chances this season, sources claim that the Warriors “absolutely are not” trading Wiseman. Partly because they believe in his upside and partly for more pragmatic financial reasons.
The Warriors value culture, much like the Spurs did during the Tim Duncan era, so their hesitance to make any major moves is not unexpected. Why fix if it ain’t broke? And here’s a not-so-surprising fact: Golden State never made any in-season trades during their five straight runs to the Finals.
As intriguing as the prospect of adding Sabonis or Turner sounds—especially considering their looming DeAndre Ayton problem—the chances of that materializing is close to nil.
3.b. The Sixers might be
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported on Friday that trade talks surrounding Ben Simmons are heating up. The momentum is driven by a key date on the NBA calendar: Dec. 15. That’s when free agents who signed this offseason will become eligible for a trade, which increases the pool of players who can be included in a Simmons deal.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Sixers have had an up-and-down season. They’re 15-12 and tied for 6th in the Eastern Conference. With superstar Joel Embiid having already missed 10 games due to nagging injuries and Covid-19, Darryl Morey and co. probably realized that it’s time to end this game of chicken and finally move Simmons in order to get production from the roster spot he occupies.
Philly is said to be aggressively trying to structure multi-team deals that would land them a top 25-level player. No reports yet on which teams Philly are talking to, but Portland has reiterated that Damian Lillard is off limits.
With the Pacers looking to clear house, could a package involving Sabonis and LeVert be the best one available to Philly? Sabonis and Embiid would be a weird fit, given their similarities, so they’d need to get a third team involved. Portland, anyone? Here’s my pet trade:
Philly gets CJ McCollum and LeVert; Portland gets Simmons and Sabonis; Indiana gets the expiring contracts of Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington, plus Danny Green who can either be flipped to a contender for future assets before the trade deadline or serve as the veteran locker room presence to guide the Pacers’ young core. Throw in some draft picks and kickers, and it’s a win-win for everyone.
4. LaVar is back!
After what felt like years of radio silence, it looks like LaVar Ball of the House Ball, first of his name, CEO of the Big Baller Brand, father of Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo, is back. This time he’s taking aim at the GOAT and owner of the franchise for whom his youngest son plays for.
In a recent interview, LaVar gave the most LaVar answer to a question about LaMelo’s relationship with the Hornets owner.
“How often does he seek out advice from Michael Jordan? Never!” replied the Ball patriarch. “What advice he gonna give him? You tell me what advice he gonna give him. Do you ever have milk in your refrigerator, man? When the damn thing expires, I hope you throw it away.”
“When the last time he won a championship? The game has changed. What’s he gonna tell him? … If he had to say, ‘Yo, this is what you gotta do to get better.’ The Charlotte Hornets been around a long time before my son got there. Tell some of them guys so that you can win!”
We can only hope that word eventually reaches Jordan.
5. Throwback video of the week
On Nov. 20, 1993, a 21-year old, 325-pound Shaq drops one of the craziest triple-double statline ever: 24 points, 28 rebounds, and 15 blocks.