Zion Williamson injury update: Pelicans star will return after initial 6-to-8 week timetable, per report

New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry provided an update on rookie Zion Williamson on Monday, and said that the top pick from the '19 NBA Draft is "itching" to play, but hasn't yet begun any on-court work following the surgery he underwent to repair a torn right lateral meniscus prior to the season's start. 

Williamson was initially given a 6-8 week window for a potential return to action, but that timetable will need to be pushed back a bit, as Williamson's return will "definitely" fall outside of that initial estimate, according to Turner Sports' Kristen Ledlow. The Pelicans, obviously, won't rush Williamson back in any way shape or form, as they're prioritizing his long-term health over a single season. 

"I think he's fine," Gentry said of Williamson, via Christian Clark of Nola.com. "I don't think it's anything that can be rushed. I think it's a time thing. Six weeks is what we said, but obviously, he's making progress. When the time comes for him to start on-court and do things like that, he will. It's not anything that's going to be rushed or any shortcut. It's a matter of taking the time to make sure he's fine... In these situations, you sometimes have to protect players from themselves." 

Late last month, Pelicans general manager David Griffin said that Williamson was still potentially on target to return around the eight-week mark, though like Gentry, he also made it clear that the team would not be putting any pressure on their prized rookie to return quickly. 

"Right now, I think we're on target for eight weeks," Griffin said. "Probably not to the day, but in and around that. If it's nine weeks, that's fine. If it's 10 weeks, that's fine. If it's seven weeks, that's fine. But he's in a really good space with his rehab."

While speaking with media members last month, Williamson said that his rehab was going very well, but he also preached patience when it comes to his return to action.   

"[The rehab] is going very well. Day by day, it's getting better and I think it's going very well," Williamson said. "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. ... "It's kind of ... it's a long season. This isn't like college or something where it's 30 games. It's 82 games, so I don't really see a need to rush back. "When they feel like I'm back to myself, they'll let me play. Simple as that. ... I'm just rehabbing man."  

While NBA fans are understandably excited to see Williamson make his professional debut, it makes sense that the Pelicans are being completely cautious with his return, as the entire future of the franchise is tied to his health. When he feels 100 percent healthy he should return, and not a moment sooner. 

Michael Kaskey-Blomain covers the NBA for CBS Sports. He has covered the league in some capacity since 2009 for a variety of outlets including Philly.com, ESPN 97.3, and 247 Sports. Michael hails from... Full Bio

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