The NBA must be pretty annoyed by the way the New Orleans Pelicans are using Zion Williamson in the Disney bubble. Williamson playing 15 minutes a night cannot be what the league envisioned when they went out of their way to include the Pelicans in the league's restart and heavily feature the Zion and the Pelicans with six prominently televised games. So far, the amount of time, effort, money and resources it has cost the league to include the Pelicans has not been worth it.
When the NBA put together this Disney bubble to finish their season and crown a champion, they made it a top priority to have Zion Williamson involved. That meant bringing his sub-.500 team which had a slim chance of making the playoffs. In order to invite the Pelicans, they also had to invite a bunch of other sub-.500 teams in the Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers. Outside of the fans of those particular franchises, no one really would have cared if they had all stayed home.
Yet they are all currently residing at Disney World, having made incredible sacrifices to be away from their family and friends during an uncertain time. And they did that so that the NBA could showcase their next superstar face of the league.
Well? How's that working out for everyone? Zion has played a total of 29 minutes through two games that the Pelicans lost. During the opening game of the entire restart, he sat for the final 7:19 as his team lost by two and TNT pulled in some of its best ratings of the season.
In the Pelicans' second game in the bubble, Zion played 14 minutes as the Clippers blew the Pelicans out of the water and put their playoff hopes on life support. Now the Pelicans are four full games out of the 8-seed with three teams between them and a possible play-in game.
Maybe the biggest miscalculation by the league is that two of the teams first three games were on national television and now they are stuck with four of their next five games split between ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and ABC. Each broadcast partner will now have a chance to show America how Zion Williamson manages his load.
The NBA should be furious. You know how much extra money and resources are being spent so that the Pelicans can not play Zion in front of a bigger audience than they had all season? The league had to bring an extra six non-playoff teams to justify the Pelicans' inclusion. That's an extra 90 players in the bubble alone, not to mention coaches, trainers and any other essential team employees who the NBA is housing, feeding, entertaining and testing on a daily basis for the next two weeks.
Compounding the frustration is the fact that there is nothing they can really say or do. Zion Williamson is there and he is playing. He's not sitting out games, which is what the league has been trying to curb over the last couple seasons as load management became a serious regular season issue. The Pelicans are doing what they believe to be in the best interest of their franchise in the long term. What is the league going to do? Leave them home during the next pandemic?
So just knock it off, New Orleans. If Zion is healthy, he should be playing. If the Pelicans are there then they should be trying to win games. There's no reason to tank as they're going to end up with a low lottery pick no matter what happens. So just play him, dammit. A lot of people have done a lot of things they didn't have to do so that Zion Williamson could be beamed into every house in America for three straight weeks.