Sore foot delays Williamson's return to Pelicans practice
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) Soreness in Zion Williamson's surgically repaired right foot derailed plans for the 2020 All-Star forward to take part in his first full practice of the season on Thursday, team officials said.
Now the plan is to rest the 2019 top overall draft choice for a few days to see if pain subsides, first-year Pelicans coach Willie Green said.
"It's more important to be patient," Green said. "We're talking about somebody's career. Any time you're dealing with that aspect of professional sports, that is important. That's how we're looking at this."
The Pelicans have started the season 6-18 without Williamson, who has not played in a game this season but appeared to be closer to returning to action when the club said last week that he had been cleared to participate in full-speed five-on-five drills.
Green said Williamson was "frustrated" by the latest delay.
"It's something that he's been going through and working his tail off to come back from," Green said. "He understands this is a part of it and you have to keep getting over these hurdles."
Williamson played in just 24 games as a rookie because of a preseason right knee injury (lateral meniscus). In his second season, he played in 61 of 72 games, averaging 27 points per game.
He hurt his foot during offseason training, fracturing his fifth metatarsal. The Pelicans revealed the injury on the first day of training camp in September, saying then that they hoped he'd be ready to play by the regular season opener on Oct. 20. Williamson agreed with that timeline, which has since proved overly optimistic.
Williamson has undergone several rounds of imaging on his repaired foot, which so far have shown no structural damage and enough improvement that doctors signed off late last week on his return to full practice.
The Pelicans play at Dallas on Friday night.
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Updated December 2, 2021