NBA

Zion Williamson cleared for Pelicans return but will miss two more weeks

By Sports Desk March 22, 2023

Zion Williamson has been cleared to return to on-court activities but will need at least two weeks to get up to speed.

The New Orleans Pelicans announced Williamson's return to fitness on Wednesday – a significant boost for a team whose season has gone off the rails.

At the time of Williamson's hamstring strain in January, the Pels were third in the Western Conference, just a game behind the first-placed Denver Nuggets.

Since then, however, New Orleans are 12-23, slipping to 12th place on the outside even of the play-in race.

Williamson has not been the only Pelican to miss time with injury, but Brandon Ingram's return has not improved the team's fortunes.

With the Pels set to re-evaluate Williamson in two weeks' time, he is on course to miss a minimum of seven more games.

New Orleans only have 10 games remaining.

A return in the final week of the regular season could be just the boost the Pels need, but they could also very realistically be out of postseason contention by then.

This has been another season wrecked by injury for Williamson, the former first overall pick.

He played only 24 games in his rookie season and 61 the following year before missing the entire 2021-22 campaign with a foot fracture.

The Pels still handed Williamson a five-year rookie extension worth up to $231million, with $193m guaranteed.

Although he continued to miss games on occasion, the initial signs were encouraging as Williamson averaged 26.0 points through 29 games.

But the hamstring injury derailed his and the Pels' season, with time running out to set it back on track.

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