The New Orleans Pelicans have more than exercised their patience with star big man Zion Williamson and his nagging health issues. Williamson has spent more time off the court than on it through nearly his first three NBA seasons.
The All-Star is still recovering from a surgically-repaired right foot that will likely force him to miss the entire 2021-22 campaign. However, Williamson may have just angered Pelicans with his latest Instagram post.
Zion Williamson’s ongoing health struggles
Weeks before the 2021-22 season, the Pelicans revealed the disappointing news that Zion Williamson suffered a fractured right foot over the offseason.
New Orleans initially maintained an optimistic approach, stating that Williamson could possibly return by the season opener. That time frame quickly became pushed back as the star big man struggled to make progress in his recovery.
Williamson appeared near his return in December, but the team instead decreased his progression to 5-on-5 work. His rehab work took another step back as on Dec. 11 afer the Pelicans announced he underwent an injection in his foot to help the healing process.
The 21-year-old temporarily left the team in January to conduct his recovery process in Portland before returning to the team on March 5. Since then, the team hasn’t provided an official update on Williamson’s health aside from that his foot is improving and that would lead weight-bearing on-court activities.
Any chance of All-Star’s return this year was recently deflated after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Duke product isn’t expected to play in final stretch of the regular season. However, Williamson may just inadvertedly caught the ire of Pelicans fans with his latest social media post.
Zion Williamson just pissed off Pelicans fans with a single Instagram post
Zion Williamson has maintained a low profile throughout the rehab process, avoiding any attention-grabbing social media posts concerning his health.
However, that all changed on Tuesday night as he took to Instagram to post a five-second video of himself dunking after catching the ball off the backboard and putting the ball between his legs for a left-handed jam. The video seemingly indicates that Williamson’s foot is healthy enough to withstand a powerful aerobatic dunk attempt.
Given the uncertainty around his return date and reports that he likely won’t return for the 2021-22 season, it raises plenty of questions concerning his health. The 21-year-old has missed the entire campaign due to repeated setbacks.
His health struggles have fallen into an all-too-familiar injury-plagued brief NBA career. Through nearly his first three seasons, he’s played in only 85 games, including only 24 games in his rookie campaign.
Pelicans fans can’t help but feel a bit slighted as Williamson is giving the impression he’s healthy enough to play. The fan base just wants to see their prized star on the floor, and while his five-second video is encouraging, the team likely won’t have him on the floor until next season.
Doctors will have the final say on his availability, but the video doesn’t give off great optics.
Pelicans must exercise patience with the star forward
As much as the Pelicans want Williamson back on the court this season, the team is focused on his long-term future.
His game-changing ability on the court is undeniable, but his struggles to stay healthy are concerning. The franchise wants to build around him and Brandon Ingram for the foreseeable future, but that process will pick up again next season.
This upcoming offseason, the Pelicans can offer him a max rookie extension worth $184 million over five years. The injury concerns remain, but the Pelicans can ill-afford to let his contract situation linger. Nonetheless, the franchise’s mindset must remain on the years ahead and not the 2021-22 campaign.