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New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson to miss start of season with foot injury

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson to miss start of season with foot injury
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (R), shown Dec. 25, 2020, suffered a right foot injury during the off-season that required surgery. File Photo by Rhonda Wise/EPA-EFE

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- New Orleans Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson will miss the start of the 2021-22 regular season because of a right foot injury that required off-season surgery, the team announced Thursday.

David Griffin, the Pelicans' vice president of basketball operations, said doctors were "very encouraged" by the healing of the bone after reviewing scans that Williamson received Wednesday.

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Despite the optimism, Griffin said there wasn't a "fixed timeline" for Williamson's return to the court. The Pelicans executive said Williamson will undergo more scans in about two weeks and the franchise will proceed from there.

"It's everyone's goal that Zion return to play as soon as safely possible," Griffin told reporters Thursday. "Obviously, two to 2 1/2 weeks from now means he will not be on the floor for the first week of games. When he is able to return safely, we will do that."

Last month, Griffin said Williamson injured the foot before the NBA Summer League but added at the time that "his timeline should get him back on the court in time for the regular season."

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Williamson also believed he would return in time for the start of the season, saying: "I expect to be back for the first game. First official game, I would say." Griffin said there haven't been any setbacks in Williamson's recovery.

"It just takes a certain amount of time for guys to lay the bone that the doctors want to see," Griffin said this week. "This is where our timeline is."

Griffin noted that Williamson was cleared to begin running and to do individual on-court work, but it remains unclear when he would be cleared for additional activities.

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"Throughout the process, we'll be heading toward that," Griffin said of Williamson reaching the point where he could compete in 5-on-5 drills. "It may be well before the 2 1/2 weeks that he does that. It's really just a function of how things progress."

Williamson averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists over 61 games for the Pelicans last season.

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