Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, who has yet to play a game this season due to offseason surgery on his right foot, experienced some soreness this week in that foot and his potential return has been delayed, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN.
According to Lopez, Williamson didn’t practice on Thursday and the plan is to dial him back for a few days. No re-imaging on his foot has been scheduled and the Pelicans expect the former No. 1 overall pick to ramp back up next week. The team views it as a “slight delay” in the rehab process, but nothing serious, per William Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link).
We heard last week that Williamson had started playing in 4-on-4 scrimmages and had been cleared to practice and participate in full team activities. At that time, the expectation was that today would be Zion’s first opportunity to take part in a full practice. Clearly, that didn’t happen. He’ll revert to “low-impact” work before he ramps back up again, says Lopez (Twitter link).
While the Pelicans may be right that a slight delay in Williamson’s rehab shouldn’t be viewed as a major concern, the team is facing increased scrutiny, given the All-Star forward’s injury history. Williamson also missed a significant chunk of his rookie season due to a knee injury, far exceeding the recovery timeline the team initially provided at the time.
This time around, comments made by Williamson and head of basketball operations David Griffin on Media Day strongly suggested the 21-year-old was targeting opening night for his return. Griffin later claimed that when he said Williamson would be ready for the season, he hadn’t meant the start of the season, but Zion himself was clearly aiming to be back for opening night. It’s a bit of a worrying sign that, for a second time in three years, New Orleans’ star player is missing far more time than initially projected.