Pelicans: Zion Williamson remains weeks away from return to practice court

When the New Orleans Pelicans announced at their September media day that Zion Williamson had suffered a foot fracture, general manger David Griffin said he expected him to return for the regular season.

With the Pelicans now seven games into their season, the team announced that Williamson remains weeks away from even returning to the practice court. Head coach Willie Green provided the update when speaking with reporters on Monday.

Per ESPN's Andrew Lopez, Green said that doctors are "encouraged" by Williamson's latest set of scans, but that he hasn't been cleared for 5-on-5 practice. He won't be cleared for the next step until another set of scans that will take place in 2-3 weeks.

"He's cutting," Green said, per Lopez. "He's doing explosive work. He's running. He's getting closer and closer. It's just one of those injuries where we want to be really diligent, especially with the foot, of being careful when we put him back on the floor at full go."

Zion warmup video from weekend not encouraging

Monday's update arrives after video of Williamson running drills prior to Saturday's game against the New York Knicks fed concerns that Williamson wasn't close to game shape or a return to the court.

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Here's what Griffin had to say on Sept. 27:

"His timeline should get him back on the court in time for the regular season," Griffin told reporters. "That would be our hope and our view, and we're very optimistic about what that looks like. Unfortunately, I know that's going to be taken as a very big negative for all of you. It's really not for us, because we were dealing with it all offseason, and we feel very confident about where things are."

A 2-to-3-week timeline just to determine the next step and an apparently out-of-shape Williamson don't add up to a lot of optimism around his return.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans are off to a 1-6 start and in danger of falling out of playoff contention before Williamson's ready to play. They're certainly not going to rush their franchise player back from a foot injury, especially if the season's looking like a lost cause.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) looks on during a time out against Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports - 16992999
Zion Williamson's timeline keeps getting pushed back after David Griffin initially projected that he'd start the regular season. (Stephen Lew/Reuters)