Zion Williamson's potential return has once again been pushed back, and the New Orleans Pelicans star is quickly running out of regular season runway.
The Pelicans announced Wednesday that a reevaluation found Williamson will need at least two more weeks for his injured hamstring to heal:
The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that forward Zion Williamson was recently reevaluated for his right hamstring strain. Medical imaging revealed that Williamson’s hamstring continues to heal. His next examination will take place in approximately two weeks.
The news got even worse later Wednesday, as All-Star Brandon Ingram left the game and didn't return due to a right ankle sprain. It's unclear if Ingram will have to miss time beyond that game against the Dallas Mavericks, but the team already has enough to worry about with Williamson.
When will Zion Williamson return for the Pelicans?
If Williamson were to return in exactly two weeks, which feels like a long shot at this point, that would give him only 10 remaining regular season games to get back up to speed for a potential NBA play-in tournament berth. Another week missed would cut that number down to six games.
The 31-34 Pelicans are tied for 10th place in the Western Conference, holding the same record as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers as of Wednesday afternoon. With 17 games left to play, they are only 2.5 games back from the sixth-place Golden State Warriors for a guaranteed playoff spot, but have no room for further slippage if they want their season to continue past the regular season.
Williamson has been out since he pulled up limping in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 2. The Pelicans announced the next day he would be reevaluated in three weeks. More than a month later, they announced he would be reevaluated after the All-Star break. Four days later, they said he would be out for multiple weeks after aggravating the injury.
And now, three weeks since that last update and eight months since Williamson signed a $193 million contract extension, here we are.
Williamson's absence has coincided with months of struggles for the Pelicans, who entered that game against the Sixers third in the Western Conference standings at 23-13, but have since posted a record of 8-21.
Williamson, who has also missed multiple games this season due to a hip injury, a foot injury and health and safety protocols, was averaging 26.0 points, seven rebounds and 4.6 assists per game at the time of his injury while shooting 60.8% from the field. After nearly four seasons in the NBA, the human highlight reel has played 114 NBA games total in his career.