Pelicans' Zion Williamson clears quarantine, returns to practice

July 28 (UPI) -- New Orleans Pelicans rookie forward Zion Williamson completed his four-day quarantine and returned to practice Tuesday.

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry told reporters that Williamson, who returned to the NBA's bubble Friday, had a light workload on his first day back. The standout rookie left the bubble in Orlando, Fla., on July 16 to attend to an urgent family medical matter.


Williamson participated in 3-on-0 and 5-on-0 work but didn't take part in 5-on-5 drills, according to Gentry.

"He's well-liked by his teammates and likes being around his teammates," Gentry said. "Just to have him back in the gym is a real positive, a lift in energy when he's in the building."

Gentry said the team will conduct another practice Wednesday and evaluate whether Williamson -- who has gone about 12 days without taking part in team activities -- can play in the Pelicans' restart opener against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

"The medical staff will evaluate and see where he is and see if it makes sense for him to go out and play," Gentry said. "... It really isn't a tough decision, guys. If he's ready to play, he'll play. If he's not, we won't play him. You're not going to risk anything long term for something very, very short term. We'll see and evaluate tomorrow where he is.


"The medical people will and so will Zion. Zion will tell us how he feels. From there, we'll go and see and make decisions on what is best for him and what is best for our team."

The Pelicans won all three of their scrimmage games without Williamson, including Monday's matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. New Orleans also played 44 games without him in the regular season after he suffered a torn meniscus in the pre-season.

Williamson -- in 19 starts -- was averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game before the NBA suspended play in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pelicans posted a 28-36 record before play was halted.


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