Zion Williamson suffered a foot fracture earlier in the offseason and will be reevaluated in two weeks. However, there is “no fixed timeline” for his return, New Orleans Pelicans chief basketball executive David Griffin told reporters Thursday. Williamson had surgery earlier this summer, and according to Griffin, his surgeons have reviewed his scans and cleared him for the next step in his rehabilitation, but he will not play for the Pelicans at least in their first week of games. New Orleans opens the season next Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Initially, the Pelicans had hoped Williamson would be ready for opening night. Now, that timetable has been pushed back slightly.
Williamson has struggled with injuries throughout his career. In two seasons, he has played in only 85 of a possible 144 regular-season games with the Pelicans. His unique body type and explosive athleticism seemingly make him vulnerable to injury, and if he’s going to evolve into the sort of consistent MVP candidate his talent suggests that he should, Williamson and his team are going to figure out how to mitigate those risks.
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Thus far, it doesn’t seem as though he and the Pelicans have seen eye to eye on that front, though. Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported during the offseason that Williamson “had grown increasingly frustrated with the Pelicans for the number of hoops they required him to jump through to return from the knee injury he suffered in the preseason” of his rookie year. It took Williamson more than three months to return from an injury with an initial prognosis of six-to-eight weeks, and even then, he played under a strict minutes limit. With Williamson eligible for an extension after the season, the Pelicans will have to work with him to make sure that he is satisfied with their rehab plan.
New Orleans reshaped its roster this offseason in part to provide more spacing around Williamson, who grew into the NBA‘s best scorer near the basket last season, but those changes require Williamson to actually be on the floor. If he’s not, the Pelicans are going to be in serious trouble early on, so hopefully Williamson is able to return quickly.