Zion Williamson Rumors: Pelicans 'Poured Resources' into Star's Health amid Injury

Erin WalshNovember 19, 2021

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 13: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 13, 2021 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Zion Williamson has yet to play this season as he continues to recover from a fractured foot, but it appears the New Orleans Pelicans have done everything in their power to help the star in his efforts to return to the court. 

The Pelicans have reportedly "poured resources, time and energy to protect Williamson's health," according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez. The team has changed members of its staff and even made changes to some culinary practices in order to support the former Duke star. 

In addition, ESPN notes that Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has gone out of his way to send videos to NBA officials showing how Williamson was fouled during games in order to get him more protection with better officiating. 

Griffin also criticized officials in a press conference and was fined $50,000. 

The Pelicans are still unsure when Williamson will make his return to the court as he has only recently been cleared to return to contact practices.

Williamson has played just 85 games since entering the league as the No. 1 pick in 2019. He tore his meniscus during the 2019-20 preseason and missed New Orleans' first 44 games of the season before returning to play 24 games. 

The 21-year-old played 61 games last season, but missed time with a thumb sprain and a fractured left ring finger. He underwent surgery to repair a fractured foot during the offseason, which is why he remains sidelined. 

When healthy, Williamson is one of the most impressive forwards in the league. Last season, he averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 61.1 percent from the field. 

By pouring money into helping Williamson get healthy, the organization likely hopes he'll sign a contract extension. Williamson is under contract through the 2022-23 season, but he will be eligible to sign a rookie extension (five years, $181 million) after the 2021-22 season. 

Without Williamson, the Pelicans are off to a brutal start this season at 2-14, only one win ahead of the last-place Houston Rockets (1-14).