On Wednesday, the team gave Zion Williamson the go-ahead to formally start participating in basketball exercises again, marking another step toward his return to the floor. The Pelicans have said they would review him once he has been out for at least two weeks, during which time he will not participate in any of the team’s games.
Williamson is now struggling with a strain to his right hamstring, which has prevented him from playing for New Orleans ever since the injury occurred on January 2. As a result of the damage, Williamson was expected to be out for at least three weeks, but the recovery period has now extended far beyond that.
Midway through February, he relapsed in rehabilitation, which caused him to be sidelined from playing in the All-Star Game. He was expected to miss “several weeks following the All-Star break,” from February 18 to February 23. Around the beginning of March, the team informed him that he would be out for at least another two weeks.
A stress reaction in the guard Jose Alvarado’s right tibia has caused him to miss the club’s previous ten games. The team has released a medical update on Alvarado, who is a member of the starting lineup.
Even if Williamson and Alvarado can return in the next two weeks, it will be on April 5 before we see him back on the floor when the Pelicans play home to the Memphis Grizzlies. After that, the Pelicans will only have two games remaining in their season, but they are currently in the thick of the race for a spot in the Play-In Tournament. Heading into Wednesday’s schedule, they were behind the No. 10-seeded Utah Jazz by 0.5 of a game.
The Pelicans were among the best teams in the Western Conference and had a winning record of 23-14 when he suffered his injury. The absence of Williamson, along with that of another frontcourt star, Brandon Ingram, contributed to the Pelicans’ decline to 12-23 and their rapid slide down the Western Conference rankings. Even though Ingram has been back with the Pelicans since January 25, the club lost ten games between January 16 and February 2, which caused them to fall farther behind in the race.
This season, Williamson, who is 22 years old and was named a starter for the All-Star game, has averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists throughout 29 games.
After graduating from Duke in 2019, Williamson was selected first overall in the NBA Draft; however, he was sidelined for the 2021-22 season due to a foot ailment and most of his rookie season due to a knee injury.
Since becoming professional, he has played 114 games out of a possible 292 regular season games, although he has not participated in any of New Orleans’ eight playoff games.
Williamson signed a five-year rookie max agreement with New Orleans over the summer of 2018, and the deal’s worth could range from $193 million to $231 million, depending on the incentives.