Pelicans’ Zion Williamson will have minutes restriction when he returns

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans could very well be on the verge of seeing rookie No. 1 pick Zion Williamson make his NBA debut.

Williamson has missed all season with a torn meniscus in his right knee, but it’s expected that he will return some time this month.

While head coach Alvin Gentry would not get into further detail about a return date, he did note that the star forward will be on a minutes restriction when he returns.

“It’s not worth the gamble of just trying to make this thing something that it’s not right now,” Gentry said. “We want to make sure that everything is in place and we’ll take our time. Obviously he’s not going to come out and be a 30-minute-a-game guy. It’s going to be a slow process to get him to the minutes that everybody wants to see him.”

Boasting the second-worst record in the Western Conference at 12-25, there’s legitimately no reason for New Orleans to force the issue here. It needs to take it slow with the face of the franchise.

Seen as a generational talent, Williamson’s skills are by now well known. It’s now all about him getting back to 100% and salvaging some of his rookie season. That could start on a limited basis here soon.