Zion Williamson has been cleared to return to on-court activities and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, the New Orleans Pelicans said on Wednesday. Williamson suffered a strained hamstring in a Jan. 2 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and has been out ever since.
Based on the timeline presented by the Pelicans, it doesn't appear especially likely that Williamson will return to the floor this season. The regular season ends in 18 days, on April 9. That means that even if he is re-evaluated and cleared to return to games in two weeks on April 5, he would only be able to play in three regular-season games before the postseason begins. Any setbacks, any conditioning concerns, any issue whatsoever, and Williamson would likely be out for the regular season.
And based on the way the Pelicans are playing right now, they might not have a postseason for him to return in. The Pelicans were 23-14 when Williamson got hurt. At one point this season, they were the Western Conference's No. 1 seed. Since Williamson went down, New Orleans is just 12-23. They currently hold the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference, and both the No. 10-seeded Utah Jazz and No. 11-seeded Los Angeles Lakers hold tiebreakers over them. Even if Williamson is healthy before the end of the regular season, there is no guarantee that the Pelicans have anything to play for.
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Williamson has played four NBA seasons, and three of them have been ruined by injuries. A torn meniscus limited him to just 24 games as a rookie. He didn't play at all last season after suffering a Jones fracture. Now, this hamstring issue has kept him out of the bulk of this season. He signed a five-year max extension last offseason, so he will have plenty of chances to change this trend, but for now, Williamson's health is among the biggest question marks in the NBA.