Thursday, January 27 2022
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Zion Williamson has been cleared for contact drills and one-on-one workouts, the New Orleans Pelicans announced Tuesday. He underwent further imaging last week in order to receive medical clearance, and the next step will come when he receives more imaging on Nov. 24 to determine if he can be cleared for team workouts. That would be the final major obstacle he would need to clear before returning to the floor. 

The third-year superstar has not yet played for the Pelicans this season. He suffered a fractured foot during the offseason and has been recovering from surgery ever since. It was the latest in a string of injuries for Williamson, who missed time at Duke with a sprained knee that occurred when he broke a shoe, and as a rookie during the 2019-20 season, he played only 24 games while recovering from a torn meniscus. 

The longer Williamson remains out, the worse things are going to get for the Pelicans. New Orleans is 2-13 this season. Only the 1-13 Houston Rockets have been worse. Top executive David Griffin initially claimed that he expected Williamson to return by the start of the season, but that deadline has long since passed. Reports have suggested that Williamson has not been happy in New Orleans thus far in his career. He will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason. Should he choose to decline it, he would become a restricted free agent in 2022 and would have a path to unrestricted free agency in 2023 if he wanted it. 

That is an outcome the Pelicans are doing everything in their power to avoid. Righting the ship starts with a healthy Williamson. He’s still a ways off from taking the floor, but this is the first step in the right direction for him in what has been a nightmarish start to the season for both him and his team. 

Source: CBSSports.com

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