3:16pm: Williamson’s exact return protocol will be determined once the league gets more information on the specific circumstances of his absence, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). As noted below, the expectation is that he’ll have to quarantine for at least four days upon returning.
10:28am: Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson has left the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus in order to attend to an “urgent family medical matter,” the team announced today in a brief press release. The expectation is that Williamson will rejoin the team in Orlando at a later date.
“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The NBA has a protocol in place for players who receive approval to leave the Disney campus for a personal matter, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer relays. As long as the player tests negative for the coronavirus for each of the seven days preceding his return to campus (or tests negative every day, if he’s away for fewer than seven days), he is subject to only a four-day quarantine period upon returning.
An unexcused absence or a failure to follow those guidelines would result in a 10-day quarantine period upon the player’s return to campus. However, with seeding games just two weeks away, I’d expect Williamson to be careful about following the league’s protocols to ensure he maximizes his availability for New Orleans’ eight upcoming games.
The Pelicans will take part in the first game of the NBA restart on July 30 vs. Utah. That game will be followed by crucial matchups with the Clippers (August 1), Grizzlies (August 3), and Kings (August 6). New Orleans’ schedule finishes with games against the Wizards (August 7), Spurs (August 9), Kings (August 11), and Magic (August 13).
The Pelicans, who are 3.5 games back of Memphis for the No. 8 spot in the West, have one of the more favorable summer schedules and are in position to challenge the Grizzlies for the conference’s final playoff spot. The club will hope that Williamson can be a key part of that postseason chase — he has averaged 23.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 19 games (29.7 MPG) in his first NBA season.