Pelicans' Zion Williamson Progressing on Schedule in Knee-Injury Recovery

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 11: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans stands on the court during a NBA game against the Houston Rockets at the Smoothie King Center on November 11, 2019 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. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson remains "on schedule" after receiving an eight-week timetable to recover from arthroscopic surgery Oct. 21 to repair the meniscus in his right knee.

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin provided the update Friday during an appearance on ESPN Radio NOLA (via ESPN's Andrew Lopez), though he noted the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft could return anywhere between seven and 10 weeks.

"He's on schedule," Griffin said. "He's progressing exactly as I hoped he would. ... You can map out where eight weeks could be."

Williamson, 19, said in early November there was "no real timetable" for his first game, but he felt encouraged by the progress.

"[The rehab] is going very well. Day by day, it's getting better, and I think it's going very well," the Duke product told reporters. "I do feel like it's getting stronger day by day. The trainers and stuff are telling me day by day it's getting stronger ,and I can feel the difference each day."

He added: "When they feel like I'm back to myself, they'll let me play. Simple as that. ... I'm just rehabbing, man."

Williamson looked ready to take the NBA world by storm during a terrific preseason. He averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 71.4 percent from the field in four games.

The Pelicans are going to proceed with extreme caution when it comes to their new franchise cornerstone, though. They illustrated that when they shut him down for Las Vegas Summer League after he suffered a minor knee injury in his first appearance.

New Orleans' Dec. 25 meeting with the Denver Nuggets always seemed like the perfect target for his return. It's slightly after the eight-week timeline and would allow the league to hype the return of its newest superstar to cap its annual group of Christmas Day games.

Griffin's comments suggest it's possible Williamson's recovery doesn't finish until early 2020, though.

Derrick Favors, Jahlil Okafor, Jaxson Hayes and Nicolo Melli will continue to split time in the frontcourt rotation until the prized prospect returns.

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