The Pelicans plan to be very careful with injured rookie Zion Williamson when he’s ready to start playing, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said Williamson’s condition will be closely monitored and he won’t be used in back-to-back situations.
“He very likely will not be asked to take the pounding of back-to-backs initially,” Griffin said in an appearance on the team’s TV broadcast. “There will be a sort of ramp-up for him to getting back to where you would call him full strength, but he’s certainly going to be playing, and we’re trying to win basketball games. And quite frankly, we’ve done a horrible job of that.”
New Orleans is off to a 6-16 start without Williamson, who continues to recover from a meniscus injury he suffered in the preseason. He was originally projected to miss six to eight weeks, and while the team expects him back soon, he won’t meet that timetable. He has progressed to the point that he can handle some basketball activity, such as light walk-throughs and spot shooting.
Williamson was spectacular in the preseason, averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per night and shooting 71.4% from the field. He suffered the injury in an October 13 game and underwent surgery eight days later.
Griffin is confident that the organization is making the right decision by allowing its star rookie to take his recovery slowly.
“Where we may be failing in terms of the short term, I’m very confident that we’re succeeding over the breadth of what we’re trying to do, which is build a sustainable winner,” he said. “And we’re well on our way to that, despite the current record.”