Zion Williamson is seemingly ready to play, a few weeks after the New Orleans Pelicans' elimination from the NBA playoffs.
The Pelicans announced Thursday that Williamson has been "cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions," following new imaging on the right fifth metatarsal bone in his foot. Williamson missed all of this season with the injury.
Update on Zion:
Recent imaging of Williamson’s right fifth metatarsal showed continued improvement.
Williamson has been cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions. pic.twitter.com/xZAtf9lyVn
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) May 26, 2022
Of course, "cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions" is a particularly twisted instance of PR/medical speak. The sentence is confusingly phrased, an apt way to end a rehab process that has been slow-paced and hazy throughout.
The upshot, at least according to Pelicans center Larry Nance Jr., should still be clear, though. Williamson is back.
— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) May 26, 2022
Williamson originally fractured his foot last August. The injury required surgery, but Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin expressed hope in September that his star would be ready for the regular season.
That obviously did not come to pass, as his return kept getting pushed back. He suffered a setback in December that required an extended reduction of his rehab, then got an injection that sidelined him for at least another month. A long silence followed, until he was finally cleared to resume basketball activities in March.
There was some hope Williamson could return in time to give the Pelicans a boost down the stretch and potentially in the postseason, but he was reported to be out for the season later that month, to the disagreement of his stepfather. As this was playing out, speculation built about Williamson's relationship with the Pelicans going sour over their handling of his injury, but he still stated he was ready to sign a long-term extension with the team.
Meanwhile, the remaining Pelicans battled all the way into the postseason, defeating the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in tournament to grab the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They would lose 4-2 to the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.
The team showed impressive fight along the way, and it now seems they will get a full offseason to figure out how to work with Williamson, assuming he stays healthy.