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Zion Williamson injury update is more bad news for the New Orleans Pelicans

Vincent Frank

New Orleans Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson has not suited up since May of 2021 due to a foot injury. There was hope that the former No. 1 pick would be back here soon after undergoing offf-season foot surgery.

Initial optimism gave in to a setback earlier this month with the Pelicans noting that Williamson would miss extended action with no timeline for return.

Unfortunately, we now have some incredibly bad news on this front. According to the Pelicans themselves, Williamson had an injection at the fracture site in California earlier in the week. The update is not great.

“Williamson will be limited to low impact, partial weight-bearing activities for an extended period. Further updates will be given following further imaging which is anticipated to occur in 4-6 weeks,” the Pelicans noted.

There was no more information provided from the club. Obviously, there’s some concern that the former No. 1 pick will be lost for the remainder of the season. At the very least, he’s likely out through January.

This is absolutely brutal in every way for both the 21-year-old forward and his downtrodden organization.

Related: Updated NBA injury report for 2021-22 season

Zion Williamson injury and long-term impact

Zion Williamson injury update
May 3, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) flexes his muscle after making a basket against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday’s news could mean that Williamson will have played in all of 85 games over the course of his first three NBA seasons. Eighty-five games. It’s hard not to place the injury-plagued title on the transcendent talent at this point.

And it’s all sorts of disappointing. In the action that he has played as a pro, Williamson has been downright dominant.

  • Zion Williamson stats: 25.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 61% shooting

A superstar during his one season with the Duke Blue Devils, Williamson initially joined absolutely elite company once he returned from injury his rookie season. The backdrop since has included multiple injuries.

Currently only 21 years old, Williamson still has time to get back on the court and become the dominant player the Pelicans envisioned when they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Zion Williamson’s future with the New Orleans Pelicans

The issues here are three-fold. Williamson’s injury coincides with reports that he’s out of shape and is unhappy with the Pelicans’ organization as a whole. Whether any of that comes up once the 2021-22 season draws to a conclusion remains to be seen.

What we do know is that Williamson likely won’t see the court until October of 2022 at the earliest. That will make it roughly 18 months in between games. Ouch!

New Orleans finds itself at a mere 9-21 on the season and is now in a holding pattern as it relates to team-building. Recent reports suggest an interest in embattled Philadelphia 76ers star point guard Ben Simmons.

The question here becomes whether front office head David Griffin is going to build this fledgling roster around an injury-plagued big man who might not have interest in suiting up for the Pelicans over the long-term. This will obviously play a role in what roster decisions Griffin makes ahead of the February NBA trade deadline and into the summer.

When New Orleans selected Zion Williamson No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, the hope was that he’d be the franchise cornerstone following the departure of Anthony Davis. Now roughly 30 months after making that pick, we’re no closer to an answer. This is problematic for an organization that last earned a playoff appearance back in 2017-18.