METAIRIE, La. (AP)All-Star forward Zion Williamson will not return for at least two more weeks, jeopardizing whether he will be a part of the New Orleans Pelicans’ playoff push.
The Pelicans announced Wednesday that Williamson, who has not played since straining his right hamstring Jan. 2, “has been cleared to return to on-court activities” and “will be re-evaluated in two weeks.”
The latest re-evaluation will come April 5. New Orleans plays host to Memphis that night and will have two more regular-season games on April 7 and April 9.
“I can’t confirm whether he’ll be back or not,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said after practice Wednesday.
Green said the organization is “taking a slower approach” with Williamson’s rehab after the team’s leading scorer suffered a “re-injury” in February.
New Orleans briefly had the best record in the Western Conference in December and had a 23-14 mark after Williamson was injured during a 120-111 loss at Philadelphia. Since then the Pelicans are 12-23.
Going into Wednesday, New Orleans was tied with the Lakers, a half-game behind Utah and Minnesota, which are tied for the final two play-in spots. The Pelicans have 10 games remaining, starting with a home game against Charlotte on Thursday.
“We feel like we’re getting to a good place for the final 10 games,” Green said.
Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans’ second-leading scorer, had 32 points in a 119-84 victory against San Antonio on Tuesday, but he has missed 37 games this season due to injuries.
“It’s been a constant adjustment all season,” Green said. “There’s some frustration because every team in the league comes in with expectations and goals and excitement based on knowing what your team would look like full.
“We haven’t been full for the majority of the season. But now you look at where you are and keep trying to improve and continue to try and instill confidence in our group and stay focused on winning games.”
New Orleans has played just 10 games this season with its projected starting lineup, winning six of those games.
Williamson, who missed all of last season because of foot surgery, is averaging 26 points per game, is second on the team in rebounding (7), third in assists (4.6) and is shooting 60.8% from the floor.
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