New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson will not return to Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers after suffering a leg contusion, according to the team. The Pelicans are unlikely to make a comeback in the fourth quarter down big, so the team is being cautious with Williamson. He’ll finish this game with 12 points, six rebounds and one assist.
Zion Williamson (right leg contusion) will not return to tonight’s game— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 6, 2024
This result is a rough look for the Pelicans, who believe they are a contender in the West as long as everyone is in on the floor. However, the concern now shifts to Williamson’s health. There’s been a lot of chatter about the forward being unable to stay in shape and hit his weight thresholds in his contract, which would trigger certain guarantees. The team put those in place when making this deal, and it appears that precaution is about to create a potentially uncomfortable situation between Williamson and the Pelicans.
This isn’t the first leg injury Williamson has suffered in his career, but it’s something to be worried about ahead of the trade deadline. The Pelicans are in a good position as one of seven teams in the West with 20+ wins entering Friday’s games. They can’t afford to have Williamson sidelined for too long. If he is out for a while, look for Brandon Ingram to pick up the scoring slack while Jonas Valanciunas has a bigger impact on the boards.
We’ll see if Williamson is able to return for New Orleans’ next game Sunday against the Kings.