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New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson cleared to return for 2022-23 season

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson cleared to return for 2022-23 season
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, shown Jan. 15, 2021, missed the entire 2021-22 season after he broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot last summer. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE

May 26 (UPI) -- New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has been "cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions," the team announced Thursday.

The Pelicans' announcement paves the way for Williamson to go through off-season workouts unrestricted this summer as he prepares for the 2022-23 season. The All-Star forward missed the entire 2021-22 campaign after he broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot last summer.

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The update came after the Pelicans said recent imaging showed "continued improvement" in Williamson's injured right foot.

The Pelicans hoped Williamson could return to the court this season, but multiple setbacks prevented that from happening. There was an outside chance that he could have made his return if the No. 8 seed Pelicans made a deep run in the postseason, but New Orleans fell in six games to the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round.

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Williamson just completed his third NBA season, but he has played only 85 games in those years because of injury problems. He played 24 games during his rookie season after his professional debut was delayed because of a torn meniscus in his right knee.

The 21-year-old Williamson is eligible to sign a five-year, $186 million max rookie extension with the Pelicans this summer. He previously indicated that he would sign the extension.

Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, has averaged 25.7 points, seven rebounds and 3.2 assists in his NBA career.

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