New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, shown Jan. 15, 2021, suffered a fractured foot during the off-season. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE
Jan. 5 (UPI) -- New Orleans Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson will continue his rehabilitation away from the franchise as he attempts to return from a fractured right foot, the team announced Wednesday.
ESPN reported that Williamson and the Pelicans mutually agreed on the decision, and the team arranged transportation for Williamson out of New Orleans. According to the outlet, the All-Star forward will conduct his rehab in Portland, Ore.
"Since we notified everyone on December 16 of his latest imaging, it was decided then by our medical team to dial his rehab back to only partial weight bearing activities," Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. "He continues along that path.
"We also agreed that in order to put Zion in the best position to succeed, he will rehab away from the team at this time so he can focus on the task at hand."
Williamson also made his first comments about the foot injury since the Pelicans announced in late September that the former No. 1 overall pick was injured during the off-season.
"As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult process for me," Williamson said in a news release. "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.
"Basketball means everything to me, and I am thankful for the Pelicans organization and everyone who has surrounded me with love and support throughout this journey -- my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans, and everybody who has stood behind me and uplifted me when I needed it most."
Williamson hasn't appeared in a game this season after suffering a fracture in his right foot that required surgery in the summer. After there was initial optimism that he could return in time for the start of the 2021-22 campaign, his return has been delayed multiple times.
The Pelicans announced last month that Williamson received an injection in his right foot to aid in the bone-healing process. At the time, the team said he would be re-evaluated in four to six weeks.
New Orleans, which has a 13-25 record this season, is expected to have an additional update on Williamson in the coming weeks.