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Zion Williamson to continue rehab away from Pelicans, reportedly in Portland, Oregon

This might not be bad news

New Orleans Pelicans v Miami Heat Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans announced in a press release today that Zion Williamson will be away from the team to continue with the rehabilitation process of his right foot fracture.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the location is Portland, Oregon.

The team also stated that he’ll remain under the supervision of the Pelicans medical staff.

“Since we notified everyone on December 16 of his latest imaging, it was decided then by our medical team to dial his rehab back to only partial weight bearing activities,” David Griffin stated. “He continues along that path. We also agreed that in order to put Zion in the best position to succeed, he will rehab away from the team at this time so he can focus on the task at hand.”

Williamson received an injection on December 16 to assist with the healing of his right fifth metatarsal. An update on his progress should be forthcoming in coming weeks after another set of scans, per ESPN.

Zion made his first comments since media day, too.

“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult process for me,” Williamson said. “I know there’s work to be done in my recovery before I can safely return to the court, but I will continue to put in the time necessary so I can get back on the floor with my team and represent Pelicans fans and the city of New Orleans at the highest level. Basketball means everything to me, and I am thankful for the Pelicans organization and everyone who has surrounded me with love and support throughout this journey – my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans, and everybody who has stood behind me and uplifted me when I needed it most.”

The first question that I’m sure jumped to many minds upon reading this news: why Portland? In my opinion, the locale makes a lot of sense.

Nike World Headquarters sits 15 miles away in Beaverton, Oregon. You know, the Fortune 500 company that signed Zion to a 7-year, $75 million shoe deal before the start of Williamson’s rookie season.

Nike probably would also love to be a part of the Williamson success story for a change after one of their shoes failed Zion during the highly televised matchup between Duke University and North Carolina.

Williamson’s resulting knee sprain, thankfully, wasn’t too severe, but Nike shares dropped 1% in value the following day. It would definitely be good for business to help get one of the most exciting NBA stars back onto the court.

Athletes consult with out-of-market specialists all the time, and Nike has a sprawling campus dedicated to research and training. The LeBron James Innovation Center encompasses 750,000 square-feet. The Nike Sports Research Lab, 84,000 square feet. And there’s a slew of other facilities on the same 200+ acres.

Think of all the expertise and state-of-the-art machines housed there. There probably isn’t a better place for Zion to continue his rehabilitation, learn about his body and monitor the forces being exerted on his right foot.

Whether Williamson is ultimately continuing his rehabilitation at Nike or somewhere else in Oregon isn’t the biggest takeaway here. Rather, it’s good to read that the Pelicans and Zion are trying another avenue.

Zion was supposed to appear in the first regular season game of the 2021-22 season. Seventy-seven days later, he’s yet to register a single minute, and of greater concern, there’s no concrete timetable for a return.

Yes, please exhaust every possible resource available in returning Zion Williamson to 100% full health. Thank you.

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.