NBA Season Restart 2019-20

Zion Williamson is a 'game-time decision' for Thursday

Coach Alvin Gentry and the Pelicans will see how Zion feels before tomorrow's game

New Orleans Pelicans star rookie forward Zion Williamson practiced Tuesday and Wednesday in the aftermath of a four-day quarantine after returning to the NBA campus at Walt Disney World, but his availability for the season restart is uncertain.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said “it’ll be a game-time decision” that will “all depend on how he’s feeling” on Thursday when New Orleans faces the Utah Jazz (6:30 ET, TNT) for the first of its eight seeding games to restart the NBA season.

“I was gone for seven or eight days with an urgent family matter,” Williamson said. “Then, I had to sit in a room for four days. The NBA isn’t something you can usually just straight into, especially off of stuff like that. So, I think me and my team are gonna look to see what’s best and [see] if I’m ready to go out there.”

Williamson was excused to leave the NBA campus on Jul. 16, and rejoined his team on Friday, before finishing out a four-day quarantine on Tuesday.

“In the room for four days, I was able to do some body workouts just to keep my muscles going,” he said. “While I was away, it’s tough to do stuff. I was dealing with a family emergency. So, it’s God first, then family. Basketball wasn’t really there. I was dealing with something serious.”

Gentry said the Pelicans participated in a light workout Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s season restart against the Jazz. Williamson hinted that he’s leaning toward playing against the Jazz, but Gentry plans to defer to the team’s medical staff regarding a potential minutes-restriction for the rookie so as not to jeopardize his long-term future.

“That’s something that I would leave up to the medical staff. Obviously as a coach, you’d want him out there as much as you possibly can have him out there,” Gentry said. “But we have guys that are better equipped to make those decisions than I am from just a health standpoint and a minutes-played standpoint. It’ll be collectively something that’s done by sitting down and talking about it, trying to figure it out, if he does end up playing.”

Before the NBA suspended the season in March, Williamson had played in 19 games, averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds on 58.9% shooting from the floor and 46.2% from deep.

“If you know me, I want to hoop,” Williamson said. “That’s just how I am. I’m never gonna change. I’m gonna want to hoop, it’s as simple as that. I could play the whole game. I’m just a hooper. I don’t know anybody that’s gonna say, ‘No, I can only play 10-15 minutes.’ Nah, I’ll play the whole game if I have to.”

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can e-mail him here , find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .

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