Zion Williamson Expected to Re-Join Pelicans Practice on Wednesday

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2020

FILE - In this March 6, 2020, file photo, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson walks onto the court during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in New Orleans. The rookie sensation’s availability to play remained unclear as the season’s resumption in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, approached. He left the NBA’s so-called “bubble” setup on July 16 to attend to an unspecified family medical matter. A week later, the club had yet to provide an update on his possible return.  (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza, File)
Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson is expected to re-join the team for practice Wednesday after previously leaving for a family emergency, executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin announced Monday.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry later revealed Williamson is set to clear quarantine on Tuesday.

Malika Andrews of ESPN reported the news, noting Williamson returned to the NBA bubble in Orlando Friday and tested negative for COVID-19.

He must quarantine for four days while being tested each day.

Returning to practice Wednesday would give Williamson a chance to play in the Pelicans' first seeding game Thursday against the Utah Jazz. However, the team will determine his availability based on his condition.

"Literally any player on our roster who went 13 days without doing any physical activity, it isn't going to be a given that we would just cut them loose in that next game," Griffin said. "Particularly a player that generates as much torque as he does. So we will see where he's at."

Williamson apparently did light workouts while away from the team and he now has workout equipment in his room to use while quarantining.

The rookie's presence will be a major storyline for the NBA as New Orleans tries to sneak into the playoffs. The squad enters the restart 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final spot in the Western Conference, but will also have to compete with the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns.

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An active Williamson would make a big difference for the Pelicans after he averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 19 appearances before the season was suspended. After a 20-31 start to the season, New Orleans had seemingly hit its stride down the stretch with an 8-5 record in the last 13 games. 

Even if the 2019 No. 1 overall pick is less than 100 percent for the first seeding game, he should be able to make an impact before too long.