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Any Hope Of Seeing Zion Williamson Play This Season Appears To Be Dead

Sean Gardner. Getty Images.

(The Athletic) - Sources said Zion Williamson is not expected to return to play this season, but that he is making progress toward on-court work. So far, Williamson has been seen doing stationary shooting and is able to bear weight on his injured foot. New Orleans has 11 regular-season games remaining, which leaves an improbably tight window for Williamson to complete the team’s ramp-up stages ranging from one-on-zero to five-on-five scrimmaging. Williamson returned to New Orleans two weeks ago after rehabbing his fractured foot injury in Portland, and the 21-year-old has been cleared to gradually progress in basketball activities. He has been attending Pelicans home games and has appeared to be in positive spirits around teammates and coaches. Williamson underwent surgery to repair his broken foot last summer and had several return targets delayed this season.

Well that sucks. Remember Zion? I won't blame you if you don't because it feels like years since we've seen him. The last time we saw Zion on an NBA court he was doing this

putting up 27.0/7.2/3.7 on 61% shooting. He was must watch stuff. Since then it's all been a bit of a disaster for both Zion and the Pelicans, so while this latest update from Shams isall that surprising, it definitely stinks. I guess it all depends on what you consider "this season". Does that mean just the final 10 or so games of the regular season but not the playoffs? If you haven't noticed, after starting 1-12 the Pelicans have now surpassed the Lakers for the 9th spot in the West at 30-41. They could find a way to sneak into the top 8 once we get into the play in. If healthy, they are in no way a cupcake team to play, there is real talent on this roster.

Or, does "this season" mean the play in/playoffs included. If that's the case, it stinks even more. You're telling me you wouldn't want to see LeBron vs Zion in the play in? Of course you do, even if it means you're forced to watch that pathetic collection of players in LA. Obviously Zion shouldn't play unless he's 100%, but as a basketball fan it sucks that the signs are pointing to us getting a total of zero (0) Zion minutes in 2021-22. Remember back in the preseason when David Griffin said he would be ready to roll around Opening Night? Nope!

You then start to think about what do the Pelicans do moving forward. Zion will be eligible for his rookie extension this summer, so what do the Pelicans do? Do they just say fuck it and offer him the max extension despite not playing this year and having a bit of injury concerns? Would Zion's camp take less out of fear for future injury and prefer the security? Does he not extend early and risk playing next year without one? Do the Pelicans maybe get out in front of this and look to move Zion for what you would think would be a pretty good haul? Everything is probably on the table right now and that's a little nuts. Then you add in all the smoke around Zion's camp not totally loving New Orleans and all that shit, it's a fair question to ask. 

Personally, I don't think they trade him. Especially with how much better they look post trade deadline and how well CJ McCollum has fit, my guess is they want to see that roster with Zion involved. I think it's way more likely they just give Zion the max rookie extension. You can always trade it if things don't go south as long as Zion proves to be healthy. It's extremely rare that a player turns down both the rookie extension and the pending qualifying offer that next season and becomes a UFA. That's even more true with a guy who has injury concerns.

So while it sucks that it doesn't look like we'll see Zion this year, I am excited to see how this Pelicans roster looks next year if they have full health. They could easily be one of those teams that has a surprise season in terms of their win total, and I wouldn't totally rule out competing for a top 8 seed as opposed to living in the 9/10 range. That's how good Zion is. He just has to be on the court to show it.