Zion Williamson, who suffered an offseason foot injury, said he’d return for the Pelicans’ first regular-season game and lead them into the playoffs.
He remains sidelined. New Orleans is an NBA-worst 1-6.
And Williamson isn’t coming to the rescue soon.
Will Guillory of The Athletic:
Willie Green says Zion Williamson had his scans done on his foot. He's cutting, doing some work on the floor.
He still isn't cleared to do any 5-on-5 work. The plan is for him to get another round of scans in 2-3 weeks that'll free him up to be a full participant in practice.
— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) November 1, 2021
If it’ll be 2-3 before Williamson might get cleared to fully participate in practice, it’ll be a while until he actually plays. By then, New Orleans might have fallen too far behind in the postseason race.
This situation looks especially bad because of the messaging. Not only did Williamson say he’d return for the regular-season opener, Pelicans lead executive David Griffin said, “His timeline should get him back on the court in time for regular season.” Griffin’s “clarification” that he meant only that Williamson would return sometime during the regular season continues to look ludicrous.
Williamson’s return from prior injury was a source of tension before. With reason to believe Williamson might want to leave the Pelicans, this situation warrants close monitoring.
Still, despite the league watching, numerous questions remain. Is Williamson in shape? Was the initial timeline misguided? Did he have a setback?
If Williamson fully practices in a few weeks then returns to games shortly after, everyone will move on for a bit. But after the Pelicans’ previous updates, there’s an element of “have to see it to believe it” with this timeline.