If anyone was holding their breath and waiting for Zion Williamson to appear in a game for the New Orleans Pelicans this season, it’s time to exhale and let it all out. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Williamson won’t return to play this season due to his nagging foot injury.
This news is disappointing, but it’s not exactly a surprise to anyone who has been following the yearlong saga of Williamson’s injury. He fractured his foot during the offseason, which ended up needing surgery. The Pels didn’t tell anyone about the injury or the subsequent surgery until Sept. 2021, but at that point they hoped he’d be ready for the start of the season. He wasn’t, but he saw enough results from his rehab that he was cleared to participate in full basketball activities by the end of November.
That stopped pretty quickly once Williamson experienced soreness in his surgically repaired right foot. He was shut down from all basketball activities and got an injection in his foot in January. At that point, Williamson wasn’t even rehabbing with the team in New Orleans, but in Portland, Oregon. It was even reported that he could need a second surgery on his foot, which would require extensive rehab time.
Williamson is improving
There is a silver lining to this angry storm cloud of news: Williamson is making good progress with his foot. We found out in early March that he didn’t need a second surgery on his foot and was cleared for full basketball activities. According to Charania, Williamson has been seen “doing stationary shooting,” and he can now put weight on his foot. He also reportedly returned to the team a few weeks ago and has been attending home games, appearing “to be in positive spirits around teammates and coaches.”
Though Williamson is getting better, the Pelicans have just 11 regular season games left to play. It’s unlikely that he could get into shape in time to play any of those games, and even if he could, it wouldn’t be worth it. Now he has at least six full months to get himself to a place where he can play without pain, without the pressure of an in-progress season. That seems like a long time to wait, but if it gets him back to being the explosive player we know he can be, it’ll be worth it.