Crucial season for Zion and the Pelicans starts off on the wrong foot – .

Crucial season for Zion and the Pelicans starts off on the wrong foot – .

New Orleans have just finished three consecutive under-500 seasons, they’ve just fired Stan Van Gundy and hired Willie Green to be their third head coach in as many years, and rumblings about their potential future plans. cornerstone of the franchise are getting stronger and stronger: This is shaping up to be a terribly consequent season for the Pelicans. The kind you hope to sprint out of doors quickly; the kind you would really like to start off on the right foot.

Well, media day in New Orleans made focus on the right foot. Sadly, it was Zion Williamson’s right foot, which he obviously broke this summer.

In his opening remarks to reporters on Monday, Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin explained that Williamson had undergone surgery to repair a broken right foot before the Summer League. Williamson attributed the injury to “Overdoing it with my training” after a season in which he played his first All-Star game, but the Pelicans stumbled on a disappointing 31-41 mark that left them two games out of the play-in tournament.

According to Griffin, Williamson’s return schedule “should get him back on the field in time for the regular season – that would be our hope and our point of view.”

“Unfortunately, I know this is going to be seen as a really big negative for all of you,” Griffin told reporters. “It’s really not for us, as we’ve had to deal with it all in the offseason, and we’re very confident about the situation. “

Griffin a dit que Williamson broke the fifth metatarsal of the right foot– a fairly common injury for basketball stars, an injury that players like Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Ben Simmons, Pau Gasol and Brook Lopez have suffered. The good news, according to injury-focused website Jeff Stotts In street clothes: The “average time lost for fifth metatarsal fractures during the season is approximately 42 games”, as surgical repair typically takes between six and 10 weeks. Although cases did occur during the offseason, Stotts wrote, “missed an average of 15 games with several active players on opening night.” (This offseason, of course, will be about a month shorter than usual.)

Stotts also notes that Aaron Nelson, vice president of player care and performance for the Pelicans, has had “previous success in the management of fifth metatarsal fractures” during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns; in 2009 he helped bring Robin Lopez back from surgery “in just 52 days [without] any associated failure or complication. It is therefore possible that the optimism projected by Griffin on Monday, Williamson, Green, and the rest of the Pelicans is justified, and that Zion-who was not wearing a walking boot on media day, will be ready to go when New Orleans takes on Joel Embiid and the 76ers on October 20.

Even if there is reason to be optimistic and have a half-full view, it is still not exactly super for pelicans that Williamson-No. of New Orleans. 1 offensive option and undoubtedly its best animator – enters the camp limited to work out in the pool and on the treadmill and is “Very unlikely” to prepare for preseason action.

“He’ll be on the pitch at some point,” Green told reporters on Monday. “But it’s a progression. I don’t want to throw something in there and you hold me there. The schedule is that we hope he can start the season.

Si Williamson Is getting back in time for Game 1, it will be interesting to see both how long it will take for him to get rid of the rust after several months of no activity at full throttle and how the organization manages his minutes. You may remember that when Zion returned from previous injuries – the torn left meniscus he suffered ahead of his rookie season and the undisclosed hamstring injury that pushed him out of the bubble – the Pelicans only deployed it for short periods of playing time to avoid getting injured again. , and it would register for a few minutes of effort before being replaced.

Williamson “hated” the breakout plan during his rookie season, according to Christian Clark of The Times-Picayune | Defender of New Orleans, and “the way [his] the return was handled caused significant tensions between him and the team’s medical staff. Whether this injury causes the gusts to return obviously remains an open question:

If Williamson starts the season looking less like the revolutionary offensive dynamo he was last season, or if he’s delayed in his recovery and not ready for Game 1 after all, things might start to get bleak. early in New Orleans.

It’s unclear exactly what to do with the Pelicans roster after an offseason mishmash that saw Griffin dispatch starters Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe, and bring in Jonas Valanciunas, Devonte ‘Graham, Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple. What seems clear, however, is that these veteran imports will not be the main drivers of the Pelicans’ potential success this season; their best shot for significant improvement and rise in the rankings lies in the continued development of the young core that Griffin and Co. has assembled. Players like Brandon Ingram, 2019-20 All-Star, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kira Lewis, Naji Marshall and rookie Trey Murphy III can help cushion the blow of an injury to Zion by adding some oomph, play and two-way impact. It’s hard to imagine them entirely make up for his absence, however, which could be particularly damaging in a West in which virtually every team, aside from Oklahoma City and Houston, appear capable of reaching the playoffs.

With or without Zion, a slow start against a tough slate – New Orleans gets the Sixers, Bulls reloaded, Timberwolves, Hawks, Knicks and Suns seemingly healthy (so characteristically chaotic) in the first two weeks – could put New Orleans behind the eight ball in the race for playoff positioning. If that happens, you wonder if these reports of Williamson’s frustrations with the franchise are starting to mount; if the volume mounts on the rumor about the possibility that he could become the first star player to pass up a maximum salary extension from his rookie contract next summer to sign the qualifying offer to become a free agent unrestricted in summer 2023; what if Griffin’s seat of power in the Pelican hierarchy suddenly started to get unusually hot.

For now, those gray clouds are in the distance and may well disperse ahead of opening night, giving way for a return from Zion to provide the kind of sunshine that might excite Nova fans. Orleans. The Pelicans can start this season on the right foot, after all. However, you would be forgiven if Media Day made you feel like they were already limping in it.


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