Zion Williamson was supposed to be ready to return from an injured foot to start the NBA season.
Now, after a series of delays, he may need a second surgery.
That's according to Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who reported on Wednesday that lingering soreness continues to plague the Pelicans forward. Per the report:
"Williamson was supposed to return to practice in December, but he began experiencing soreness in his right foot. That month, he flew to Los Angeles to have an injection to promote healing. It is possible he will need a second surgery on his right foot, sources said, but nothing has been decided."
The news continues to cast doubt on Williamson's ability to play at all this season and raise concern about the long-term impact of a foot injury for a player listed at 284 pounds and reportedly tipping the scales at well over 300 this season.
Zion's repeated setbacks
General manager David Griffin broke the news of Williamson's injury on preseason media day while telling reporters that his "timeline should get him back on the court in time for the regular season." That was on Sept. 27. Williamson suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal on his right foot over the summer and needed surgery to repair it.
Since then, Williamson has faced multiple setbacks and left New Orleans to focus on rehabbing his foot. ESPN reported in January that Williamson was rehabbing in Portland, Oregon, while the team noted that he was continuing to rehab "under the supervision of the Pelicans medical staff."
Williamson broke his season-long silence on his injury in a statement released by the team on Jan. 5.
“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult process for me,” Williamson said, per the Pelicans. “I know there’s work to be done in my recovery before I can safely return to the court, but I will continue to put in the time necessary so I can get back on the floor with my team and represent Pelicans fans and the city of New Orleans at the highest level."
Williamson hasn't commented publicly since, and his Twitter page consists almost entirely of retweets of Pelicans news. His bio has images of himself wearing his Duke and high school uniforms and makes no mention of the Pelicans.
As of Wednesday, the Pelicans have gone 10-10 since a 13-25 start to move into 11th place in the Western Conference where they can conceivably contend for a spot in the postseason play-in games. While the season's not completely lost in New Orleans, there's little motivation for the Pelicans to put Williamson back on the court until he's 100% physically ready.