Zion Williamson has had a setback in his return to play. While he was scheduled to practice with the New Orleans Pelicans last week, foot soreness prevented him from doing so. At first, it was seen as a slight delay, as first reported by ESPN's Andrew Lopez and The Athletic's Will Guillory, but that soreness hasn't subsided and the team announced Saturday afternoon that his training will be reduced until his foot heals further.
"After experiencing persistent soreness in his right foot, Zion Williamson underwent medical imaging which showed a regression in the bone healing of his fifth metatarsal. As a result, the volume and intensity of his training will be reduced for an extended period to help allow for further bone healing. Additional updates will be provided as warranted."
Williamson had been playing 4-on-4, per ESPN, but, since his foot is sore, the Pelicans dialed back his workload. Now, though, after imaging revealed regression in the healing of his right foot, it appears Williamson's timeline for returning to the floor will be pushed even further.
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This is a tough blow for Williamson, especially after the Pelicans, specifically head coach Willie Green said the team was "very optimistic" that the soreness will go away after a few days and will be able to ramp up Williamson's activity again. That doesn't seem to be the case, and now the Pelicans will have to go longer without their franchise star. Green also added that Williamson has been "working his tail off" to come back and is "frustrated," but understands that he has to "keep getting past these hurdles."
Without Williamson, the Pelicans are 8-20 on the season, with the fifth-worst net rating in the NBA. Williamson hasn't played in a game since early May of last season, but this current injury is something he sustained during the offseason. Originally, the Pelicans said at Media Day that he would be ready for opening night of the 2021-22 season, but that clearly didn't happen, as the timeline for his return has continued to change.