Pelicans’ Zion Williamson Out At Least Two Weeks With Hamstring Strain

1:30pm: After undergoing an MRI, Williamson has been diagnosed with a left hamstring strain, according to the Pelicans (Twitter link). He’ll be reevaluated in approximately two weeks, meaning that he’ll remain sidelined well beyond Friday’s play-in game if New Orleans advances.

12:51pm: Star forward Zion Williamson will be unavailable for the Pelicans when they host the Kings on Friday in the Western Conference’s final play-in game, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Williamson exited Tuesday’s game, a Pelicans loss to the Lakers, with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter due to an apparent left leg injury. Subsequent reporting suggested Williamson was dealing with a left hamstring ailment, which Wojnarowski confirms.

According to Woj, Williamson will be evaluated again in the “coming weeks.” That wording suggests that the former No. 1 overall pick wouldn’t be available to open round one of the playoffs if New Orleans defeats Sacramento on Friday.

It’s a brutal blow for the Pelicans, who were one win away from securing the No. 6 seed in the West and avoiding the play-in tournament altogether. However, they couldn’t beat the Lakers on Sunday, and that lost forced them to face the Lakers again on Tuesday in the No. 7 vs. 8 play-in game.

Williamson, who was coming off the healthiest season of his five-year NBA career (he started 70 games), had a huge night on Tuesday before injuring his hamstring, racking up 41 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists to keep the Pelicans in the game. It was tied at 95 when he checked out, but Los Angeles pulled out the 110-106 victory.

Tuesday’s game was the first time Williamson had played in the postseason at the NBA level. He missed the team’s two play-in games and first-round series in 2022 and was also on the shelf for its lone play-in game in 2023.

Williamson’s fellow star forward Brandon Ingram returned on Sunday from a left knee bone bruise, but doesn’t appear to be at 100% — he logged just 25 minutes on Tuesday and New Orleans was outscored by 16 points when he was on the court. With Williamson unavailable and Ingram not operating at full strength, the Pelicans are in danger of missing the playoffs entirely for a second straight year.

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