“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said in the team’s statement. “Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Upon returning to the Walt Disney World Resort, Williamson will have to quarantine for at least four days. He could see this period extended, depending on whether he was tested daily during his absence from the team.
Alvin Gentry, coach of the Pelicans, addressed the Williamson situation following Thursday’s practice. However, he was unable to put forth a definite timetable for his return.
“[I] don’t know anything right now from the standpoint of him coming back,” Gentry said. “Obviously, for us, we’re just very supportive of him and his family and his privacy during this time right now.“
The electrifying rookie is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games this season. Williamson was putting up those numbers after missing the first 44 games with preseason arthroscopic knee surgery. New Orleans won ten of those games and was poised for a strong finish to the season before it suspended.
The Pelicans are currently 3 ½ games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They just need to finish the eight-game regular-season within four games of the Grizzlies. They will certainly have a shot to compete for the eighth seed.
Williamson and the Pelicans are looking to be the first team in 35 years to endure a 13-game losing streak and still make the postseason. It would also be the first time in 18 years that a franchise would start the season 7-23 through 30 games and still make the playoffs.