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Report: Zion Williamson (knee) expected to miss period of weeks to start season

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson is expected to be out for a period of weeks to open the season, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Williamson was ruled out for the Pelicans’ preseason finale tonight because of right knee soreness. Wojnarowski reports a severe knee injury has been ruled out for Williamson, but that he is expected to miss a period of weeks to open 2019-20. The Pelicans are, per Wojnarowski, treating Williamson’s injury with caution to ensure he has plenty of time to recover.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters Friday that he believes Williamson sustained his injury on Oct. 13 in the Pelicans’ preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs. In that game, Williamson scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds in a 123-114 victory.

Gentry told reporters he has spoken to Williamson, who is in good spirits about everything.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports Williamson will undergo further evaluations on his right knee today and possibly tomorrow. The team is relieved that he has avoided any major, long-term issues with the injury.

New Orleans officials said Thursday that Williamson didn’t travel with the team to New York, remaining in New Orleans to undergo further testing and evaluation at Ochsner Sports Medicine.

He was to have played Friday night against former Duke teammate RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick, in a nationally televised game.

In his lone season a Duke, Williamson suffered a mild right knee sprain. That injury occurred when his sneaker gave out a few seconds into a game against rival North Carolina. Williamson missed three weeks with the injury, returning in time to play in the ACC tournament.

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 Draft, Williamson averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in four preseason appearances for the Pelicans.

His absence may mean the Pelicans find an increased role for their other rookie, big man Jaxson Hayes, who was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 Draft. The Pelicans also have veteran big men in Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor who could both move over into bigger roles in the frontcourt while Williamson heals.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.