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Zion Williamson to miss start of 2021-22 regular season

The young superstar will be reevaluated in 2-2.5 weeks

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson will miss the start of the 2021-22 season, according to David Griffin, the executive vice president of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans.

There existed a strong hope that Zion would be ready for the first matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 20. That dream was officially extinguished today and the Pelicans now find themselves in a holding pattern regarding their best player.

While it’s good to hear Zion’s doctors have green-lighted the next step — he’s allowed to run — a return to game action feels as distant as ever. He’s not allowed to engage in physical activity with teammates yet and the next scan remains 2-2.5 weeks away. The worst news though, Williamson now sits without a timetable — which is a vastly different message from the one heard on media day.

“We met yesterday as a group, Willie {Green}, myself, Trajan {Langdon}, Aaron Nelson representing the medical team, and Zion and his family,” Griffin announced. “We established a timeline for his return to play. Zion is returning from a foot surgery, suffered earlier in the offseason prior to summer league. He had a fractured right foot that was repaired surgically. His timeline should get him back on the court in time for the regular season.”

Williamson went on to confirm this — “I expect to be back for the first game” — but didn’t hide the fact that he was originally dismayed.

In addition to Griffin insinuating Williamson’s return was close and Zion himself flatly stating he had circled the first game of the 2021-22 season, new head coach Willie Green also expressed significant aspirations on media day, stating, “The timeline is that we’re hopeful he can start the season.”

Either way, arguing about whether Zion suffered a setback or battling over semantics isn’t going to speed up the process. What is a given, however, the Pelicans are not going to nearly be the same threat around the league until Williamson is able to return to action.

Williamson has played in 85 out of a possible 144 games through his first two NBA seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The team’s overall record with him in the lineup: 40-45.

Without: 21-38.

The Pelicans will no doubt be adding wins and losses to the second column starting next week, but the question is, how long will that continue?

Unfortunately, it’s anyone’s guess.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.