How long is Zion Williamson out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Pelicans rookieSporting News — (Jordan Greer)
The Pelicans will have to wait a little bit longer for Zion Williamson's NBA debut.
Williamson missed New Orleans' final preseason game against the Knicks, but his injury turned out to be a little bit more than "right knee soreness." The No. 1 overall pick underwent an arthroscopic procedure a day before the Pelicans' season opener against the Raptors, shutting him down for several weeks.
It's a disappointing development after Williamson averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals in four preseason contests, but New Orleans won't be taking any chances with Zion's knee. The 19-year-old is the future of the franchise, so the Pels are right to be patient and give him time to fully recover.
What's next for the former Duke star? Here's everything we know about Williamson's injury and the latest news on when he may return to the court.
How long will Zion Williamson be out?
Following arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus, Williamson was initially estimated to be out six to eight weeks, per a team statement. Using the NBA's Opening Night (Oct. 22) as a starting point, a full eight weeks would have pushed his debut date back to Dec. 17.
However, Williamson was held out beyond that window, and his recovery extended into 2020. Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told reporters on Jan. 15 that he anticipates Williamson will finally be available for New Orleans' home game against the Spurs on Jan. 22.
"This process has been one that's been really, really good," Griffin said. "We've learned a lot more than we've probably taught him, frankly. He's getting to the point where we actually think he's as ready as he believes he is. Everything's moving in the right direction."
Zion Williamson injury timeline
The Pelicans couldn't determine the exact moment when Williamson hurt his knee, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, but coach Alvin Gentry suggested the injury may have occurred during a preseason game on Oct. 13 against the Spurs. Williamson informed the Pelicans on Oct. 16 he was feeling tightness in his knee — there was no pain or swelling — and a precautionary MRI on Oct. 17 revealed a torn meniscus.
Given his rare combination of size (6-6, 284 pounds) and athleticism, questions immediately emerged about Williamson's ability to stay healthy and keep his weight down throughout rest of his career. He also suffered a right knee injury while at Duke, only turning up the noise about one of the most exciting athletes in basketball history.
Griffin addressed those concerns on Oct. 22, saying that Williamson is "in elite condition and stays in elite condition" and believing he got injured because he is in bad shape is "asinine."
"He can be 274 pounds with 8.5 percent body fat and he can be 280 pounds with 9 percent body fat," Griffin said (via ESPN's Andrew Lopez). "As we have gone through the process for our medical team, learning how to keep him lean and give him the core strength and stability and control he needs to handle all that torque he generates, typically that means you are going to do things to strengthen those areas.
"In this case, he gains muscle mass so fast and gains weight so fast, no one has ever dealt with anybody like him. He's 19, and it's going to be a learning experience for all of us."
Griffin added that New Orleans is "extremely optimistic" Williamson will be playing like his old self when he is fully recovered.
Zion Williamson injury updates
— Williamson goes through first full practice:
— Official update from the Pelicans: