The Pelicans will be without star forward Zion Williamson to start the regular season, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin confirmed today to reporters.
Williamson, who is recovering from offseason foot surgery, underwent imaging on his right foot this week and doctors were happy with what they saw on those scans, per Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter links). However, while the former No. 1 overall pick has been cleared to begin running, he’s still not able to participate in physical activities against other players, Guillory notes.
There’s “no fixed timeline” for Williamson’s return to game action and he’ll undergo more scans in about two weeks, Griffin said (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN).
When Griffin first revealed on Media Day last month that Williamson had undergone surgery on his foot in the offseason, he expressed optimism that the 21-year-old would be ready to go by opening night. That doesn’t mean Zion has suffered a setback – the Pelicans may just be exercising caution with their franchise player – but it’s still an ominous sign for a player who has dealt with leg injuries in the past.
Based on today’s announcement, it sounds as if there’s no chance of Williamson returning to action within the next two weeks, which means he’ll miss at least the first five games of New Orleans’ season. In his absence, the team will lean more heavily on forward Brandon Ingram and center Jonas Valanciunas to provide offensive punch in the frontcourt.