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Pelicans without Zion Williamson for 6-8 weeks following meniscus surgery, putting damper on New Orleans regular season start

We received the bad news just hours before tip-off of the opening game against the Toronto Raptors.

New Orleans Pelicans All Access Practice Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans have announced that Zion Williamson went under the knife today to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and will miss an extended period of time.

Zion Williamson underwent successful arthroscopic surgery today to address a torn right lateral meniscus. The routine debridement was performed by Dr. Jason Folk with assistance from Team Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Misty Suri.

The timetable for his full return to play is estimated at six to eight weeks.

Damn. Damn. Damnnnnnn.

Upon initially learning about the soreness in his knee last week, the hope was that surgery could have been avoided for Zion. Kristen Ledlow raised hopes days later in the final preseason against the Knicks on TNT by stating that Williamson had yet to be ruled out of any regular season games. Unfortunately, as we know all too well, reality can be a real stinker in our beloved city of New Orleans.

According to Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes, Zion’s timeline seems to indicate he underwent a meniscectomy, which is the more common route but involves removal of some portion of the meniscus. It’s also important to note that Zion’s size and weight will likely play a factor in his recovery and eventual return.

Given that the initial estimated timeline is six-to-eight weeks and the term debridement, it seems as though Williamson underwent a meniscectomy rather than a true repair. However, Zion’s recovery will be influenced by several other factors. Concerns about his size and weight are warranted as a higher body weight does impact the cartilage of the knees. Studies have shown a higher body mass increases the load on the knee and negatively effects cartilage integrity and increases the risk of a potential meniscus injury. Furthermore, Williamson’s well-documented awkward movement pattern suggests there may be an underlying biomechanical influence.

As Jeff goes on the mention, the one thing Zion and the Pelicans have going for them is the fact that Aaron Nelson is in charge of player care and performance. His excellent resume with keeping players healthy for decades with the Phoenix Suns franchise has been well documented, so the hope is he’ll be able to play a major role in helping Zion rehabilitate from this injury and avoid further complications down the road.

Until Zion steps back onto the court, however, the New Orleans Pelicans are expected to be without his services for anywhere between the first 20-30 games on the schedule. That’s a really long time. This best case scenario could have him returning on Dec. 1 in a contest against the OKC Thunder, or perhaps we won’t see him as late as Dec. 20 in a matchup with the Golden State Warriors.

Potentially no Zion until Christmas?


Let’s hope the rest of crew can live up to the Won’t Bow Down motto in Zion’s absence — hey, we’ve been bragging about the team’s depth for weeks — and best wishes for a perfect recovery, big fella!!!