The New Orleans Pelicans will have to make their playoff push without Zion Williamson, this according to Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin.
Griffin made the announcement to reporters on Friday afternoon, prior to the Pelicans victory over the New York Knicks in the Pelicans’ regular season home finale. He said that it doesn’t seem likely that Williamson will be ready for game action next week. If the Pelicans are part in the play-in tournament at the conclusion of the regular season, they would either play Tuesday as a 7 or 8 seed or on Wednesday at the Smoothie King Center as the 9 seed.
“It’s disappointing for everybody, disappointing for him, disappointing for his teammates,” Griffin said of the All-Star forward. “I think it’s just a matter of all of the objective metrics we have on where he’s at and how he feels… lining up. If they had, we’d have said he’s cleared for five-on-five. They haven’t converged for us to do that.”
Williamson, 22, has been out since injuring his hamstring during the second half of the Pelicans’ loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 2.
Griffin also indicated that Williamson had not cleared the mental hurdles necessary to return to the court, noting that he had some “hesitancy” dealing with the injury in recent workouts.
“When (Williamson) feels like himself, he’ll tell us, ‘Yeah, I’m ready for the next phase.’ To this stage, he hasn’t felt like that,” Griffin said. “He’s gotten to 3-on-3 on-court and just didn’t feel the next day or the next two days after that (making) the next progression (in the recovery process) made sense. He hasn’t been quote-unquote reinjured. He hasn’t reported soreness. It’s more of a hesitancy you can see. I think we went through this before with Brandon Ingram (and a toe injury), when (Ingram) said, ‘When I feel like me, I’ll play.’ You can see when someone is trusting it and confident. (Williamson is) not in that space right now.”
In 29 games this season Williamson has averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists, while shooting 60.8 percent from the field. The Pelicans were 17-12 with Williamson in the lineup.
He has played in 114 of a possible 308 games over four seasons.