Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the New Orleans Pelicans announced on Friday. Williamson underwent imaging on his fractured right foot on Wednesday, and he was medically cleared. The All-Star forward played full court 4-on-4 on Friday, and he will continue his progression toward returning to play from there, per the Pelicans. No estimated return date has been provided at this point.
The third-year superstar has not yet played for the Pelicans this season. He suffered a fractured foot during the offseason -- which the team kept private at the time out of respect for its star, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez -- and has been recovering from surgery ever since. It was the latest in a string of injuries for Williamson, who missed time at Duke with a sprained knee that occurred when he broke a shoe, and as a rookie during the 2019-20 season, he played only 24 games while recovering from a torn meniscus.
The longer Williamson remains out, the worse things are going to get for the Pelicans. New Orleans is 4-16 this season. Only the 2-16 Houston Rockets have been worse in the Western Conference. Top executive David Griffin initially claimed that he expected Williamson to return by the start of the season, but that deadline has long since passed. Reports have suggested that Williamson has not been happy in New Orleans thus far in his career. He will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason. Should he choose to decline it, he would become a restricted free agent in 2022 and would have a path to unrestricted free agency in 2023 if he wanted it. That is an outcome the Pelicans are doing everything in their power to avoid. Righting the ship starts with a healthy Williamson.
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