Zion Williamson has not set foot on an NBA court this season and, at this point, it’s hard to picture that happening.
Last offseason, Williamson had surgery on his right foot to repair his fifth metatarsal (the bone connecting the little toe and the ankle), but the area has not healed as Zion and the doctors had hoped. He felt pain in his foot when ramping up workouts back in December (which is why the team scaled those workouts back).
Now comes word Zion could need another surgery. From Christian Clark of NOLA.com/Times-Picayune:
Williamson was supposed to return to practice in December, but he began experiencing soreness in his right foot. That month, he flew to Los Angeles to have an injection to promote healing. It is possible he will need a second surgery on his right foot, sources said, but nothing has been decided.
Zion would be far from the first player to have issues with slow healing in that bone, for example, both Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant took an extended time to recover from that fracture.
It doesn’t help that Zion has weighed more than many around the league expected of him, which puts additional stress on bones and ligaments when he cuts and moves. Also, he reportedly has not been the most diligent person with his rehab.
Despite all that, when Zion has played he has impressed, averaging 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game over his career. He is as good an inside scorer as there is in the league.
Here is Zion’s statement from last month about what is happening:
“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult process for me,” Williamson said in a statement released by the team. “I know there’s work to be done in my recovery before I can safely return to the court, but I will continue to put in the time necessary so I can get back on the floor with my team and represent Pelicans fans and the city of New Orleans at the highest level. Basketball means everything to me, and I am thankful for the Pelicans organization and everyone who has surrounded me with love and support throughout this journey – my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans, and everybody who has stood behind me and uplifted me when I needed it most.”
The Pelicans were active at the trade deadline bringing in CJ McCollum, looking to build a team that could both make the postseason this year (as a play-in team) and thrive with Zion in the lineup whenever that happens. Clark reports Zion was excited about the addition of McCollum.
Hanging over all of this: Zion is eligible for a max contract extension this summer. Will the Pelicans give it to him? The expectation around the league is yes, but will the Pels ask for health or games played provisions (not unlike Joel Embiid had in his rookie extension)?
Even when he’s off the court, there’s a lot of drama around Zion Williamson in New Orleans.