New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry confirmed that rookie forward Zion Williamson went through his first full practice Thursday since having right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in October.
Although Gentry added that a return for the former Blue Devil remains unknown, Stadium’s Shams Charania added Thursday that “both sides are hopeful of a January season debut.”
Williamson was selected number one overall by the Pelicans in June’s NBA Draft, but his tenure so far has been marred by injury after injury, with one popular analyst insisting that New Orleans should let the rising star sit out for the remainder of his rookie season and start fresh in 2020/21.
“They [New Orleans Pelicans] look awful right now there is no excuse. I told y’all about Lonzo Bal, I told y’all that wasn’t going to pan out and not only that listen, [but] Alvin Gentry is [also] a good coach. [However] he does not look like a good coach right now, they don’t have talent that justifies losing 13 straight games. There’s just no way that should happen that has happened, and I think if you are David Griffin a little bit differently,” ESPN host Stephen A. Smith said during a December airing of “First Take.”
Will Zion Suit up Against the Lakers Friday?
After defeating the Houston Rockets Sunday, the Pelicans (11-23) have another lofty test ahead of them on Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, who are back to winning ways after enduring a four-run losing streak in December.
Although Williamson’s return would have made things interesting against their former star Anthony Davis, Gentry confirmed that he won’t start the 19-year-old when they march into Staples Center to take on the Western Conference leaders.
However, it seems like his first practice since the operation was nonetheless a success, with Williamson even adding he was ready to get back on the court weeks prior.
“If it was up to me, I would have been out there two weeks ago,” the North Carolina native said.
Given that New Orleans’ training staff would likely want to monitor his fitness for at least a couple weeks before considering him active, Williamson’s first regular season game could perhaps be when the Pelicans host the Utah Jazz on January 16 or the LA Clippers two days later. Regardless of when that eventual day is, it’s probably just a delight to Pelican fans that the presumed face of the franchise will make his long-awaited debut sooner rather than later.