NBA Rumors: Zion Williamson, Pelicans Have 'a Difference of Opinion' on Star's Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 15, 2022

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) stands out on the court during warm ups before the tip off of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
AP Photo/Derick Hingle

The New Orleans Pelicans and star Zion Williamson reportedly have a "difference of opinion" about whether he's healthy enough to play following a foot injury.

"The team maintains that the bone in Williamson's foot hasn't healed enough for him to take the floor," ESPN's Andrew Lopez reported Friday.

Sources told Lopez that Williamson is now closer to his listed weight (284 pounds) than he was when he showed up for media day before the start of the season looking well above that number.

New Orleans is set to play the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night in a play-in game for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

In September, with the 2021-22 regular season less than a month away, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said the 21-year-old had undergone surgery for a fractured right foot in the offseason.

At the time, the hope was that the 6'6" forward would be in the lineup for opening night. That projection proved to be far too optimistic as he has yet to make his season debut. Beyond leaving the Pelicans without their best player, the entire saga seemed to expose a deeper divide between Williamson and the organization.

The extent to which fans have eagerly anticipated his return was evident when a video of him dunking in an empty gym went viral on social media:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

ZION BACK IN THE GYM 😳🔥 <a href="https://t.co/OwmKpBIvlj">pic.twitter.com/OwmKpBIvlj</a>

The following day, Pelicans head coach Willie Green confirmed the Duke product had been cleared for one-on-one workouts. Still, time was rapidly running out for him to get the green light for full games.

When he has played, Williamson has justified the hype that surrounded him coming out of college. Through 85 career games, he's averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 60.4 percent from the field.

Until he shows otherwise, though, the lingering fears about his long-term durability won't go away.