Pelicans expect Zion to join practice Wednesday

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said he expects Zion Williamson to join the team in practice by Wednesday.

Williamson returned to Orlando on Friday night, after leaving the NBA bubble for eight days because of a family emergency. NBA protocol says that because the Pelicans’ star rookie returned negative COVID-19 tests daily while he was away, he must quarantine for just four days while he returns four more negative tests.

“In theory, his quarantine would end Tuesday afternoon-ish,” Griffin said on Monday. “The problem is he has to test and get the results before they release him.”

While Williamson was away from the team, Griffin said, the 20-year-old was able to fit in some light workouts. Now that he is in quarantine, the league delivered a yoga mat and a few other pieces of workout equipment to his room but “it is not like he is able to do anything that is conducive to running and jumping.” Griffin was unsure whether Williamson was given a stationary bike.

Whether Williamson is available to play in the Pelicans’ restart opener against the Utah Jazz on July 30 will be determined by how he feels after practicing.

“Literally any player on our roster who went 13 days without doing any physical activity, it isn’t going to be a given that we would just cut them loose in that next game,” Griffin said. “Particularly a player that generates as much torque as he does. So we will see where he’s at.”

Since Williamson’s departure, several other players have been granted excused absences including Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Griffin said he isn’t concerned that players leaving the bubble will significantly heighten the risk of exposure to COVID-19

“The league does such a good job of being hyper-cautious when they bring players back to the bubble that I don’t really feel like that is where our jeopardy is,” Griffin said. “I don’t think that is where we have any real kind of opportunity to sort of pop the bubble. I think the real issue is going to be as this goes along further and further, is there more and more pull to sort of break rank and just walk off campus? That is when you’re really going to see how well this is insulated.”

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