The rookie left the NBA bubble on Thursday to deal with an “urgent family medical matter,” according to the team. Williamson is expected to rejoin the Pelicans at a later date.
“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin said. “Out of respect fo the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Williamson’s Steps for Returning to Bubble
The plan is for Williamson to return to the Pelicans at some point and he will need to go through the league’s quarantine protocol for a return.
The 2019 No. 1 overall pick will get an excused absence. Players who leave the campus without prior approval are subjected to testing, including that uncomfortable nasopharyngeal swab testing and a 10-to-14 day self-quarantine. The player could also be subjected to a reduction in pay for games he misses. Since Williamson has permission to leave, he may only be subjected to quarantine and the regular COVID-19 testing.
Williamson looked “Amazing” in basketball drills earlier this month, as our own Sean Deveney relayed. Teammate Lonzo Ball said the rookie also looked “fully healthy.” Williamson was limited to just 19 games during the first part of his rookie season because of a knee injury.
“Honestly, I’m ready now,” Williamson recently told TNT’s Ernie Johnson. “I’ve been staying in shape, working on myself and just staying ready. You never know when the time is going to come when they’re going to say, ‘All right, let’s resume.’ I don’t want to have to look around at my teammates and say, ‘Sorry, guys, I’m not ready.’ So I’m staying ready for my teammates.”
NBA Scrimmages Begining Soon
Each team will play three scrimmages against other clubs starting July 22 as the league enters Phase 5 of its plan to return to play.
The Pelicans’ first scrimmage is July against the Nets. The team will take on the Nets at 6 p.m. EST. New Orleans will also play the Nuggets (7/25) and the Bucks (7/27) before the restart of the season.
During this fifth phase, players and team staff are allowed to socialize with anyone from any of the hotels. Players still can’t go into another person’s hotel.
New Orleans is currently sits 10th in the Western Conference standings. They are tied with the Blazers, who also sit 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the eighth seed.
The Pelicans will be one of the teams aiming for that spot and they could end up in the NBA’s play-in tournament should they come within four games of the eighth seed and no other team is ahead of them for the No. 9 spot. The Kings, Spurs, and Suns will also be competing with the aforementioned teams for the playoff spot in the West.