New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz will open the NBA restart at the Orlando Bubble On Thursday (Friday IST). However, Pelicans' star rookie Zion Williamson might not play the season opener. Williamson was among multiple NBA players who left the bubble due to a family emergency and was placed in a four-day re-quarantine after his return.
Pelicans F Zion Williamson has cleared quarantine and will return to practice with the team in Orlando this evening, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 28, 2020
As per Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, the 2019 NBA Draft overall No. 1 pick will be a game-time decision for the opening game. He added that the medical team will take a final call about Williamson's status, who was away for 12 days because of his family emergency and was quarantined for four days upon returning. Gentry further explained that as a coach, he wants Willaimson to play, but knows there are guys who are "better equipped to make those decisions" from a "health standpoint and minutes played standpoint". As per Gentry, it will be a decision that will be taken collectively.
Willaimson spoke to the reporters on Wednesday after returning to the NBA campus. He said he wants to play, but knows the risks at hand. "I think me and my team are gonna look at what's best for me, my future, and being safe," Williamson said. "If you know me, I wanna hoop. That's just how I am; I'm never gonna change. I'm gonna want to hoop, simple as that."
He denied talking about his family emergency, only informing that he discussed with his parents and family about leaving the bubble. After he returned, he was in quarantine in a hotel room, while he tried to get ready to play. When away, Williamson was dealing with an emergency and could not really work out. As he was away for some time, he and the Pelicans are approaching the situation cautiously. The 20-year-old is aware that one cannot jump back into the game, and is working on what is the best for him.
Though he sat out the 5-on-5 drills with the team on Tuesday, he says his body is now feeling fine. Pelicans forward Derrick Favors, who took time off after his mother passed away, says that the team understands family comes first, and people need time before rejoining. Favors also admitted that if Williamson does not play, he might not look like the rookie who took the season by storm after his debut. Williamson debuted in January 2020 after sitting out the entire season due to a back injury. Williamson was averaging 23.6 points before the season was suspended, and is probably the most highly-anticipated rookie since LeBron James in 2003.