For years, Zion Williamson has been criticized as a result of his fitness levels and overall health. Entering the 2023-24 season, he had played in just about 50 percent of the New Orleans Pelicans' games since being drafted first overall in 2019. That is why Zion playing 70 games during the 2023-24 season is a major testament not only to his commitment to the organization but also to that of the Pelicans' training staff. Unfortunately for Williamson, one of the members of the training staff he worked closely with won't be returning.

The Pelicans have decided to part ways with Jana Austin, who has been an assistant athletic trainer with the team since 2020, according to Christian Clark of Austin worked closely with Williamson, which is why it is a little surprising that the organization is making such a big change after the healthiest season of Zion's career.

As a whole, the Pelicans have made substantial changes to their medical staff over the last year. This is likely a move that coincides with the changes that the organization has made to try and create a cleaner bill of health for all of their players.

Although New Orleans made the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons, they have yet to win a playoff series since 2018. This is in large part due to all of the injuries the team has battled through, mostly revolving around Brandon Ingram and Williamson.

It is worth noting that Zion was unable to participate in the playoffs this year after suffering a hamstring injury on April 16 against the Los Angeles Lakers. In this play-in game, Williamson registered a season-high 40 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in 36 total minutes. That performance was the first time Zion registered at least 40 points in a game since December 2022.

The Pelicans posted a 49-33 record during the 2023-24 season, claiming the 8-seed in the Western Conference. Ultimately, they were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the 1-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

While his scoring output was down, the fact that Williamson played in 70 games was definitely reassuring for the Pelicans and their training staff. Zion ended up averaging 22.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 57.0 percent from the floor.

Changes are coming to the Pelicans in the offseason, not just to their staff, but to their roster as well. Rumors surrounding Ingram have been growing with the NBA Draft and free agency drawing near. There is also a point of emphasis being put on winning right now in New Orleans. That is the main reason behind all the changes being made to this organization.

Williamson now he heads into yet another offseason looking to prove that he can be the face of this team. A close staff member being let go by the franchise should signal that the Pelicans are going to be acting with a sense of urgency surrounding Zion moving forward.