Teresa Weatherspoon is Leaving, but Reports Indicate Zion May Be Staying

NEW ORLEANS – In another twist to what has already been an incredibly newsworthy week for the New Orleans Pelicans, NBA Insider Shams Charania reported on Thursday afternoon that assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon will not be returning to the staff for the 2023-24 season.

Weatherspoon, a Basketball Hall of Famer as a player, has been with the Pelicans since 2019 when she was hired as a two-way development coach. She was promoted to a full-time assistant in 2020.

“Spoon” is a Louisiana and Women’s basketball icon, who first burst onto the scene playing for Louisiana Tech and winning a national championship for the Lady Techsters in 1988 before going on to win an Olympic gold medal in Seoul, Korea later that year.

She was one of the original players in the WNBA, competing for six incredible seasons with the New York Liberty before retiring in 2004 with the Los Angeles Sparks.

Following her playing career, Weatherspoon built her coaching resume at her alma mater, joining LA Tech as an associate head coach in 2008 before taking over head coaching duties in 2009. In six seasons she went 99-71, with two trips to the NCAA tournament.

The same year she joined the Pelicans, she was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Weatherspoon’s induction speech was one for the ages.

While her stellar work with players had been a hallmark of her time in New Orleans, she was pushed to the forefront this past season as her relationship with Pelicans’ forward Zion Williamson became national news. Williamson said he struggled with depression while injury sidelined him for the entirety of the 2021-22 season, and cited his bond with Weatherspoon as a great source of both strength and comfort while he fought to return to the court.

Now, with Williamson’s future with the team seemingly clouded by trade rumors and his nagging injuries, that confidant is no longer there.

It’s difficult to assume any malice or meaning behind the move without any word from the parties involved. It’s much safer to assume that this will have some impact on Williamson himself.

However, it appears that the trade rumors may be just that. More NBA sources are starting to indicate that they believe the Pelicans have no intention of trading their franchise player.

According to New Orleans.Football’s Nick Underhill, Williamson was in New Orleans on Thursday and met with both team governor Gayle Benson and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin at the Saints facility on Airline Drive.

The price to move Williamson to reach the second or third pick in the draft may be too steep, or the Pelicans could view the compensation as not enough for a player that, when healthy, has shown historic scoring ability and impact.

The Pelicans were tied for first place in the Western Conference after 35 games, Williamson will be 23 years old next month, and is just beginning the first part of a five-year, $194 million contract. The case to keep Zion and the major components to last year’s roster, while shoring up the team’s main weaknesses (rim protection, shot creation, shooting) through the trading and signing of suitable role players, is quite the compelling one.

The promise of Scoot Henderson may not be enough to make the organization to give away the only player that it has ever had capable of being the best player on the court in four consecutive playoff series.

Each year, the team the holds up the NBA championship trophy is led by an all-time great. While many great players have failed to win a title, no mediocre to very good player has ever led a team to the ultimate prize.

Williamson is that good. He’s that talented. The question is if he’s ever going to put it together for an entire season.

Regardless of the drama, David Griffin may just decide that the risk of trading Zion is not worth the potential reward and that the bird he does have in hand, is worth more than the number two pick in the draft.

That doesn’t that Williamson won’t be traded in the future. If the Pelicans get off to a really bad start, or if there’s an offer that they cannot refuse, it could still happen.

It appears, however, that any trade is farther away from happening at the moment.


4 thoughts on “Teresa Weatherspoon is Leaving, but Reports Indicate Zion May Be Staying

  1. Nice article – I can’t imagine Spoon leaving not having an impact on Zion. It’s going to be a curious time for the Pels.

    Also, I just wanted to say that with the ‘sliders’ this breaking news article was not instantly visible; I only saw it because I was looking for your take on these events. I like the new start of TBW and hope that the great articles are even easier to find soon!

    1. Thanks, we’re working on it constantly. It’s just been hard as a small independent staff to ramp up. Please keep sending suggestions.

      1. Well, my main suggestion would be to keep it up! With all the rumours surrounding the Pels and the draft- people seem starved for a flow of good content like yours 🙂

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