Zion misses the boot; no ‘fixed timeline’ to return to the Pelicans

METAIRIE, La. – Power forward for the New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson, will miss the start of the regular season due to a right foot injury that required surgery in the offseason, Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said Thursday.

Williamson was examined Wednesday, and after consulting with Dr. Richard Ferkel and Pelicans team physician Dr. Scott Montgomery, Griffin said the doctors were “very encouraged” by the bone’s progress.

However, no “fixed timeline” was given on his status for returning to play. Griffin said Williamson will have more tests in two to two and a half weeks and the team will depart from there.

“Everyone’s goal is to get Zion back to play as soon as possible,” Griffin said. “Obviously two or two and a half weeks from now it means he won’t be on the court for the first week of games. When he can come back healthy there he will be.”

On media day Sept. 27, Griffin said Williamson injured his foot before the Summer League in the early part of the offseason, but added at the time that “his timeline should take him back to the court in time for the regular season. “

Williamson followed up by saying, “I hope to be back for the first game. First official game, I would say.” Griffin said there have been no setbacks in Williamson’s recovery and that nothing has gone wrong either.

“It only takes a certain amount of time for the bone to look the way doctors want it to,” Griffin said. “This is where our timeline is.”

Williamson was cleared to start running and do 1v0 work on the court, Griffin said. But it was not clear when they would specifically authorize him to carry out more activities.

“Throughout the process, we’ll be moving toward that,” Griffin said of Williamson getting to the point where he could play 5v5. “It may be long before the two and a half weeks that I do. Actually, it’s just one. a function of how things progress. “

For Pelicans first-year coach Willie Green, he now has to start the year without Williamson.

“It’s part (of the game). We miss it,” Green said. “He’s here and he’s making progress, like Griff said. But we have to prepare other players, there is a game on Wednesday against Philadelphia. We just have to be prepared.”

How the Pelicans line up on opening night against the Sixers is still up for debate. For the first preseason game you played in Brandon ingram, Green chose Ingram and Naji marshall as starting forwards. When asked about playing with Ingram at power forward, Green mentioned the fluidity of the NBA lineups today.

“I think 3, 4, 2 are interchangeable in the NBA right now,” Green said. “Unless you play certain teams, you play the Lakers, they could be a little bit bigger. You play Milwaukee, they could put in a big lineup. That’s when you really have to think about your starting 4, 3. But against a lot of teams, 3 and 4 players are interchangeable and BI can play in any of those positions. “

Williamson and Ingram, two All-Stars, were supposed to anchor the Pelicans’ lineup that featured the most shots this season, something that would ease the burden and the number of bodies each player would see on the defensive side of the court. Now, just as the team had to do in Williamson’s rookie season, they will have to start off on the right foot without their big man.

In 2019, Williamson also suffered a preseason injury that delayed the start of his season. A torn meniscus in his right knee pushed Williamson’s NBA debut to January 22, 2020.

“It’s not ideal, obviously,” Griffin said. “It’s not terribly debilitating either. The idea again is to come back as soon and safely as possible. I think the way the doctors are handling this gives a lot of confidence that that will be the case. We would love not to have to deal with that. But we are pleased with the way it has gone so far. “