NBA fans will not have to wait much longer to see Zion Williamson make his pro debut, as the New Orleans Pelicans have finally placed a timetable on the No. 1 overall pick’s return from a knee injury.
Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said Wednesday that the plan is for Williamson to make his debut on Jan. 22 against the San Antonio Spurs, which is a home game.
Jan. 22 against San Antonio is the target for Zion Williamson's NBA debut says Pelicans EVP of basketball operations David Griffin, who is speaking live to reporters now
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 15, 2020
Williamson has already missed exactly half of his rookie season, as the Pelicans have played 41 games. They are 15-26 and could use a boost if they want to climb into the playoff picture, but they are still playing it safe with Williamson and will likely have him on a minutes restriction when he returns.
The Pelicans have been going to great lengths in an attempt to put Williamson in a position where his knee issues won’t linger. He was initially expected to miss 6-8 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee in October, but he has already surpassed that time frame. Fans in New Orleans are more than ready to see what the former Duke star can do.
Zion Williamson gave a young New Orleans Pelicans fan a cool souvenir on Saturday.
Williamson went through a workout prior to the team’s game on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, and punctuated things with a dunk:
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 28, 2019
After he finished his workout, he signed shoes for a young fan:
Zion then made a special memory for a kid pic.twitter.com/GL0pqtKcCQ
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 28, 2019
The deal included a swap of shoes that was said to have left the fan shoeless:
Zion walked off the court, signed autographs and then traded shoes with a kid.
Zion gave him one of his shoes and then took one of the kids as a part of the deal.
Kid doesn’t have shoes to go home with… but I think he’s okay with that. pic.twitter.com/ULrsPJmuvE
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) December 28, 2019
That’s probably a deal anyone would accept.
Williamson, the No. 1 draft pick, has not played since injuring his knee before the season. The Pelicans are taking their time bringing him back and reportedly have even been teaching him to run and walk differently.
Zion Williamson’s return from a knee injury is taking longer than expected, and that’s because the New Orleans Pelicans reportedly are working hard to makeover the No. 1 pick in many ways.
During the first quarter of Wednesday’s Pelicans-Denver Nuggets game, ESPN’s Jorge Sedano gave a sideline report talking about Williamson’s progress. In the report, Sedano shared that the Pelicans are reprogramming Williamson.
The Pelicans are “reprogramming [Williamson] physically,” Sedano said. “It’s all about the kinetic chain of the body, even teaching him to walk and run differently. He mentioned the staff gets on him when he’s not doing it right.”
Sedano said that Williamson told him he’d already be back playing if the team let him.
“If it were up to me, I’d be out there already, but I trust the organization and how they’re handling me,” Williamson told Sedano.
Williamson is currently doing individual and group drills, but no 5-on-5 work yet. The Pelicans would like to have him doing 5-on-5 drills after the new year, according to the report.
Williamson was initially expected to miss 6-8 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee in October and has gone past that time frame. It seems a little odd that the Pelicans want to remake such a stellar athlete, but like Williamson said, he is trusting them. The Pelicans recently said they will not rush him back.
The New Orleans Pelicans are playing things cautiously with Zion Williamson and will not be rushing back the No. 1 draft pick from his knee injury.
Shortly after suffering a torn right meniscus, Williamson was given a window of six-to-eight weeks to return from the injury. That was on October 21. Eight weeks later, Williamson is not yet ready to make his NBA debut and, according to Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, the team is taking it slow with its prized asset.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry on rookie Zion Williamson’s knee: “He’s doing some stuff with us in practice, but we’re taking it slow. He’s working his butt off to get back on the court. We’ll put him out there when he’s ready to play. It’s not going to be any big rush.”
— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) December 24, 2019
Williamson’s debut, when it does take place, will be among the more anticipated in recent NBA memory. The Pelicans are slated to play on Christmas Day, which has long been a showcase for the NBA. Williamson was the driving force in the decision to put New Orleans on the schedule for that day.
Unfortunately, the basketball world will have to wait a bit longer to see Zion Williamson as a professional.
Zion Williamson is a bit over a month removed from the knee surgery that has delayed his much-anticipated NBA debut, and the New Orleans Pelicans are now providing some hints as to when his return date might approximately be.
Appearing Friday on ESPN New Orleans 100.3, Pelicans GM David Griffin discussed the No. 1 overall pick’s progress from a torn right lateral meniscus.
“He’s progressing exactly as we had hoped he would,” said Griffin. “We’re really optimistic, and most importantly, Zion is really excited and that’s where we want him to be.”
Griffin also said the team would “err on the side of caution” with Williamson but that he was on schedule with his original six-to-eight week timetable.
“Right now, I think we’re on target for eight weeks,” Griffin added. “Probably not to the day, but in and around that.”
The 19-year-old Williamson underwent surgery on Oct. 20, and eight weeks would put his return date right around mid-December. The Pelicans have started the year just 6-9 in his absence (tenth in the West), but Williamson may have more pressing matters to attend to for now.
Zion Williamson may not be back until December after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Monday.
The New Orleans Pelicans released an update on the star rookie, stating that he had surgery to address a torn right lateral meniscus. His recovery timetable is being put at six to eight weeks.
Update on Zion: pic.twitter.com/7Jn2jEdUVS
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) October 21, 2019
On that timetable, Williamson won’t play until mid-November at the earliest and near Christmas at the latest. No matter what, it’s cause for concern this early in his NBA career, and will definitely frustrate the Pelicans in their bid to become a Western Conference playoff team.
This isn’t going to do much to disprove reporting that there are concerns about Williamson’s weight, either. We’ll see how he looks when he comes back.
Zion Williamson is expected to be held out for several weeks at the start of the NBA regular season because of his latest knee injury, and there are rumblings that the former Duke star needs to get his weight under control in order to help prevent similar ailments going forward.
Shortly after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Williamson’s injury is not “severe” but will force him to sit out for several weeks, Stephen A. Smith said on “First Take” that a source told him Zion has a strained meniscus. Perhaps more troubling, Smith said the same source said Nike is concerned about Williamson’s weight.
“Somebody told me that what they’re not telling us is that he’s got a strained meniscus, and Nike is concerned about his weight,” Smith said, as transcribed by Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report. “And they want him to use this opportunity to get some weight off him so he doesn’t put as much strain on that knee.”
The Pelicans are said to be relieved about Williamson’s knee soreness after he underwent further testing, but knee troubles have become somewhat of a recurring theme for the 19-year-old. Williamson is listed at 285 pounds, which is heavy for a player who is about 6-foot-6. Most of that has to do with his incredible strength, but it would not be a surprise if the Pelicans and Nike — his biggest sponsor — want him to shed a few pounds.
One former NBA big man already offered some advice to Williamson for keeping extra weight off. Williamson has now dealt with two knee injuries during the preseason, and he had more of a fluke injury when his sneaker blew apart during a game at Duke. The issue is certainly one worth monitoring.