NBA allows Zion Williamson to work out in Pelicans’ closed facility
The New Orleans Pelicans have not yet opened their practice facility as a growing number of other NBA teams ease up on lockdown protocols in a limited capacity, but that hasn’t prevented Zion Williamson access to Oschner Sports Performance Center.
Christian Clark of NOLA.com reports that the Pelicans received special clearance from the NBA that allowed Williamson to continue his recovery from a torn right lateral meniscus in the team’s practice facility despite it remaining closed for other players on the team.
Williamson returned to action on Jan. 22 after missing the Pelicans’ first 45 games due to the injury, and the rookie sensation ended up playing in 19 games before the NBA went on an indefinite hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pelicans played it extremely cautious with Williamson upon his eagerly anticipated return. The Pelicans used Williamson’s ongoing recovery to state their case that Williamson required continued rehab at the team’s practice facility amid the league hiatus to complete a return to full health.
According to the report, the Pelicans’ medical team told the NBA that Williamson’s situation — as was the case with reserve forward Kenrich Williams as well — was “urgent enough” to require access to its shuttered facility.
“As you guys know, the flexibility aspect with Zion was really critical, so they’ve been able to continue to focus on that,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said of the team’s “holistic” approach with Williamson. “They weren’t able to do any court work during that period of time, but they were able to get the work in needed on the table, and so that was important. We’re grateful that the league allowed for that.“
Griffin added that Williamson is expected to be a full participant whenever the Pelicans return to practice.
In 19 games, Williamson averaged 23.6 points, 6.8 assists and 2.2 assists. The 19-year-old phenom was even garnering Rookie of the Year buzz, but his limited action presumably makes him a potential runner-up to Ja Maront at best.