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#pounditSaturday, August 15, 2020

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson could play on opening night after return to bubble

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson has a chance to play on opening night after the NBA announced his quarantine period upon returning to the Orlando bubble.

As Williamson tested negative for COVID-19 daily while out of the bubble, the league is requiring a four-day quarantine for the New Orleans Pelicans star. That leaves open the possibility that he could play on Thursday when the team resumes its season.

Williamson originally departed the bubble to deal with a family matter, but returned Friday. As long as he doesn’t register a positive test in the next few days, there’s no reason he wouldn’t be able to play next Thursday.

The standout rookie is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 19 games so far this season.

Report: Zion Williamson has returned to Orlando bubble

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson is officially back in the bubble.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that the New Orleans Pelicans star has returned to the NBA campus in Orlando.

The 20-year-old Williamson had left the bubble over a week ago to attend to an urgent, undisclosed family matter. A recent update given by the Pelicans revealed that Williamson was getting tested daily for COVID-19 while away, which had continued to produce negative results.

The exact length of Williamson’s quarantine period is still to be determined but will be for a minimum of four days, per league protocol. The Pelicans are set to begin the restarted season in six days on July 30 against the Utah Jazz, so Williamson’s status for that game seems very much up in the air.

Pelicans provide update on Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday provided an update on the status of Zion Williamson.

Williamson left the NBA Bubble in Orlando on July 16 to deal with a family medical matter.

The Pelicans say that Williamson has been tested daily while away from the team and continues to be negative for COVID-19. Williamson will have to follow NBA protocol upon his return to Orlando. It’s possible that his daily negative tests while away from the team could impact the length of time he will have to quarantine upon his return, which would be for a minimum of four days.

Williamson averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games before the NBA season was postponed. The Pelicans are 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Zion Williamson leaves Orlando to tend to urgent family medical matter

Zion Williamson

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has left the NBA’s bubble campus in Orlando, but he is expected to return at some point when the season resumes.

The Pelicans announced on Thursday that Williamson has left Walt Disney World to return home because of an “urgent family medical matter.” Williamson is expected to rejoin the Pelicans at a later date, though it’s unclear if he will return before the season resumes on July 30.

Williamson will have to follow quarantine protocol when he returns to Orlando, which could impact the timeline for when he is cleared to rejoin his teammates and/or play in games.

Williamson averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games before the NBA season was postponed. The Pelicans are 3.5 games behind the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference, so it would be a huge blow if they don’t have Williamson for any of their remaining regular season games.

Zion Williamson spent quarantine relearning fundamentals

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson apparently spent the quarantine period taking a page out of the book of another former No. 1 overall pick in Tim Duncan.

The New Orleans Pelicans rookie told reporters this week that he relearned his fundamentals during the time off, adding that he was working with his stepfather, Lee Anderson, when he wasn’t rehabbing with team staffers.

“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” he said, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry also sounded pleased about Williamson’s work.

“His stepfather did a fantastic job of working him out every day, of making him be in good conditioning when we got him back,” said Gentry. “He’s made a lot of strides in his shooting, I think. Although we weren’t together, he did a lot to improve his game.”

Williamson, who just turned 20, ascended to stardom primarily because of his elite physical profile and athleticism. He averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 19 appearances before the season was suspended.

The ex-Duke star will be a featured attraction when play resumes in Orlando, and others on the team also sound very excited to see what he has to offer.

Zion Williamson, stepfather accused of being paid $400K while at Duke

Zion Williamson

The latest development in the legal battle between Zion Williamson and his former marketing agent, Gina Ford, has the potential to be a huge one.

In a new court filing obtained by Daniel Wallach of The Athletic, Ford and her agency, Prime Sports Marketing, allege that Williamson and his stepfather were paid $400,000 to sign with another marketing agency in October 2018. Williamson was enrolled at Duke at the time.

In response, Williamson’s legal team claimed the new evidence Ford filed is “patently fraudulent.” Williamson’s attorneys claim Ford’s filing included a fake driver’s license and a “clearly fraudulent” signature.

In 2019, Williamson filed a lawsuit in North Carolina against Ford, alleging that his marketing agreement with Prime Sports Marketing was invalid under the Uniform Athlete Agent Act. Ford is not a registered agent in North Carolina and therefore, Williamson’s team believes a contract Williamson signed with her in North Carolina would be void.

Ford filed a suit in Florida saying that Williamson is not protected under the Uniform Athlete Agent Act because he took improper benefits while at Duke, which would make him an ineligible player according to NCAA rules.

Earlier this month, a Florida 11th Circuit Court judge ruled that Williamson would have to give discovery, and therefore answer questions about his eligibility. Williamson has since been granted a stay, meaning he will not have to answer those questions. However, new evidence could potentially overturn the ruling again.

Williamson, who became the No. 1 pick by the New Orleans Pelicans, broke his contract with Prime Sports Marketing to sign with Creative Artists Agency. Ford has claimed the cars Williamson’s family drove and house his parents lived in while he was at Duke are proof that he took improper benefits.

Lonzo Ball raves about Zion Williamson’s physical condition entering Orlando

Zion Williamson

Lonzo Ball sounds very excited for the opportunity to run it back in Orlando with the other half of his dynamic duo.

In a video conference with reporters on Monday, the New Orleans Pelicans guard spoke highly of teammate Zion Williamson’s physical condition ahead of the NBA’s resumption of play later this month.

“He looks amazing,” said Ball. “He looks fully healthy. He looks even stronger than he was before, if that’s even possible. But I was happy to see him, happy to see he’s in shape, and looking forward to playing with him.”

Ball displayed a very unique chemistry with the high-flying Williamson in the 19 games that they played together this season before play was suspended. The Pelicans had a ridiculous plus-15.2 net rating whenever the two shared the floor, per ESPN.

New Orleans executive David Griffin also sounded similarly encouraged about Williamson recently, and all eyes will be on the Pelicans in Orlando as they look to overtake the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West.