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NBA

Pelicans’ Zion Williamson cleared for full basketball activities

After a winding road to recovery, one of the most coveted talents in the league will make his long awaited return to the court. What next for Pelicans and their star?

Paul Rudder
Update:
Pelicans’ Zion Williamson cleared for full basketball activities
Jonathan BachmanAFP

Its been a long time coming, but at long last the Pelicans’ star can take to the court once again having missed the entire season.

Pelicans’ Zion Williamson cleared to play once again

According to a team announcement on Thursday, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson has successfully passed through the full complement of protocols for his full return to play. With that the Pelicans’ star has been given the all clear for full basketball activities. This of course is exceptionally good news for the team and the player who did not play a single minute during this past season due to a broken foot. It should also be said that there were a number of less than ideal ups and downs during his recovery process which seemingly prolonged the process.

Zion Williamson’s prolonged recovery and the CJ McCollum snub

It was back in pre-season when the Pelicans announced that Williamson had broken his foot and subsequently undergone a corrective operation during the Summer. The franchise assured that their star would be ready for the start of the season, however, it quickly became clear that it would not be the case as Williamson’s timeline was continually pushed back. He would later be cleared for full participation in November 2021, but it wasn’t long before he experienced a setback due to continued soreness and after receiving an injection he was back to rehab.

There was also a bit of controversy added to the mix in January when he left the team to continue his recovery in Portland. During that time, the Pelicans traded for Blazers star CJ McCollum, who never received a welcome call from Williamson. McCollum would later publicly criticize Williamson for the move or lack there of. With that said, it all seemed to be water under the bridge, when in early March, Williamson returned to New Orleans, and posted a video of him throwing down a between-the-legs dunk despite not being cleared for such activities. Later that month he was cleared for one-on-one work, and has been progressing well since then. Now, finally he has been given the all clear.

Would things have been better With Zion Williamson?

A fair assessment would be to say that the Pelicans didn’t have the best season, but given that Williamson never set foot on the court for a single game this past campaign, is it accurate to say things would have been totally different? What’s clear is that with an awful 2-13 start, they must be credited for what they did later in the season. The previously mentioned McCollum was at the center of a late push for the Play-In Tournament. Once there they got the better of both the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers to enter the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Unfortunately, the task of taking on the No. 1 seeded Phoenix Suns would prove to be too much, but again credit is warranted in light of the fact that they were able to push Devin Booker and Co. to six games.

Zion Williams and the Pelicans could have a bright future

If there is one thing we can say about the New Orleans and their now recovered star it’s this: If Williamson can stay healthy, they will have the makings of a decent team come next season and especially when considering what McCollum was able to get out of the team without Williamson present. For his part Williamson is itching for the opportunity to get back to work so now it’s a matter of how far can they go once he does. “Being around the guys, being in Smoothie King, seeing that playoff environment,” Williamson said, “and the locker room - we have a special locker room. My first two years, it was a good locker room, but this year it was more together. Being real, it sucks watching from the sideline. I just want to be out there. But just seeing the potential, we’ve got a lot of great pieces. I’m excited to get on the court with those guys.”

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