- Zion Williamson leaves NBA’s Orlando campus to deal with personal family matter
- Williamson will have to self-isolate for four days upon his return if he gets tested every day while away; 10 days of quarantine if he isn’t tested
- Pelicans scheduled to resume season July 30 against Utah Jazz
The 2019-20 NBA season will officially resume two weeks from today. However, there is suddenly some doubt as to whether the New Orleans Pelicans will be at full strength when they face the Utah Jazz on July 30.
That’s because rookie forward Zion Williamson had to leave the NBA’s Disney World campus on Thursday morning. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Williamson left to deal with an urgent family matter:
Pelicans‘ Zion Williamson has left the Orlando campus to tend to an urgent family medical matter and plans to return for season restart at later date.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 16, 2020
The Pelicans haven’t disclosed any additional information as to what Williamson is dealing with. We also don’t know when he’ll return to Orlando.
David Griffin, the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations, said, “We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family. Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Zion Faces Potentially Long Quarantine
The NBA has rigorous safety protocols in order to try and sustain the integrity of the campus, which is closed to unauthorized personnel. In fact, the league issued a memo to every team on Thursday with the goal of reminding the players that no uninvited people are allowed to interact with anyone inside the “bubble.”
If Williamson gets a test every day while he is away from the campus, he would have to self-quarantine for four days upon his return to Orlando. That’s assuming every one of the daily test results comes back negative.
If Zion does not get a daily test during his time away from Florida, he will have to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days once he returns to the Disney World campus. With the season just 14 days away, there is at least an outside chance the Pelicans may not have their star rookie once the games resume.
Williamson has been practicing with his teammates since arriving in Orlando. He said he has spent the most of his time during the long layoff training with his stepfather with an eye on getting into better shape once the season gets back underway.
Pelicans’ Improvement Since Williamson’s Debut
Zion missed the first few months of the season after tearing his meniscus during the preseason. He made his debut in January, and New Orleans has taken off ever since. The Duke product is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in just under 30 minutes across the 19 games he has played this season.
The Pels are hoping to catch the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, as well. New Orleans will begin the eight-game regular season with a record of 28-36, which means they are tied with Portland and Sacramento for ninth place. Just 3.5 games separate eighth-place Memphis from the three teams in ninth.
New Orleans is 10-9 so far this season in the 19 games Williamson has played, which is a far better winning percentage than they have had without him. The Pels have won nearly 53 percent of their games with Zion in the lineup compared to 40 percent without him.
Pels Still Facing Long Playoff Odds
Even with Williamson expected to be in the lineup, New Orleans is facing fairly long odds to catch the Grizzlies. The Pelicans have +290 odds to make the playoffs compared to -430 odds of missing out. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, are -140 favorites to finish the season in the final Western Conference postseason spot.
However, the Pels do have a favorable schedule in the eight games leading up to the playoffs. In addition to their opener against the shorthanded Jazz, the team will face the Clippers, Grizzlies, Kings, Wizards, Spurs, Kings again, and Magic before the playoffs get underway. The Jazz and Clippers are the only teams on New Orleans’ schedule with winning percentages north of .500.
All 22 teams on campus will also play three scrimmage games apiece before the season gets started. New Orleans will face the Nets on July 22 followed by practice games against the Nuggets (July 25) and Bucks (July 27).