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Zion WIlliamson to continue injury rehab away from team

New Orleans' star big man says he knows there is 'work to be done' before he can return to the court again.

Zion Williamson has yet to play in a game this season for New Orleans.

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New Orleans Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson will continue his foot injury rehabilitation away from the team. Per the team, Williamson will remain under the supervision of the Pelicans’ medical staff as he heals up.

In a statement released by the team, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said this rehab plan is considered one to help him be “in the best position to succeed.”

“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. He continues along that path,” Griffin said in a statement. “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.”

On Dec. 16, Williamson received a biologic injection that is meant to promote bone healing in the area of his right foot that he fractured this past offseason. He was set to be re-evaluated on that injury in four to six weeks, but this update came well before that timeframe.

“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult process for me,” Williamson said in a statement released by the Pelicans. “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.”

New Orleans is 13-25 this season and has the second-worst record in the Western Conference, trailing only the 10-28 Houston Rockets. The Pelicans began the season 2-14, but have gone 11-11 since then and are 2 1/2 games behind the Sacramento Kings for No. 10 in the West. Landing in that spot at season’s end would give New Orleans a berth in the Play-In Tournament.

The additional in December treatment came six days after the Pelicans announced on Dec. 10 that Williamson had experienced a “regression” in his surgically repaired right foot, further delaying his long-awaited return to the court.

That was the second setback since Williamson was cleared in late November to participate in five-on-five practices at full speed. When he was scheduled to take part in his first full practice of the season on Dec. 2, the team announced that it wanted him to rest instead because of renewed foot soreness.

Williamson, drafted first overall out of Duke in 2019, played in just 24 games as a rookie because of a preseason right knee injury (lateral meniscus). In his second season, he played in 61 of 72 games, averaging 27 points per game.

He hurt his foot last summer while performing basketball drills with his stepfather, with whom he has entrusted his offseason training. The Pelicans revealed the injury on the first day of training camp in September, saying they hoped he’d be ready to play by the regular-season opener on Oct. 20. Williamson initially agreed with that timeline, which has since proved overly optimistic by several months.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.