The NBA Summer League season is over almost before it began for Zion Willamson.
The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Saturday that they would be shutting down the top overall draft pick after he bruised his knee in a game on Friday night against the New York Knicks. As the team announced Saturday afternoon on Twitter, the former Duke star was able to avoid serious injury, but it put enough of a scare into the team that they chose to end his summer league season after nine minutes of action.
“Zion will move forward from this incident without issue,” Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said in a statement.
“However, in an abundance of caution, we have made the determination that he will not appear in game action for the remainder of NBA Summer League. He will continue to take part in training and conditioning with our performance team.”
Williamson is set to serve as the centerpiece for a rebuilding New Orleans Pelicans team, which on Saturday officially traded star Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for a haul of draft picks and young talent.
Zion Williamson looked sharp in what little time he saw the court this summer. Though he registered just nine minutes against the Knicks, Williamson managed 11 points of 4-of-9 shooting, adding three rebounds and a highlight-reel steal when he tore the ball away from Kevin Knox after the Knicks player had grabbed a defensive rebound. Williamson then delivered an arena-shaking dunk, which came shortly before the actual arena was rocked by an earthquake, which led to the game being delayed.
Williamson left the game after suffering a knee-on-knee collision in the second half.
As CBS Sports noted, there does not appear to be any advantage in risking further injury to the team’s young star.
“Considering the Pelicans have high hopes for their first overall pick in addition to the team’s high ceiling with the additions of young stars in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart along with the veteran addition of J.J. Redick, there is no point in playing Williamson and risking further injury in a meaningless Summer League game,” the report noted.
Zion (bruised knee) is out for the rest of Summer League, David Griffin announced. pic.twitter.com/sChov8RJ1T
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 6, 2019
While Zion Williamson focuses on conditioning and recovering from the injury, the New Orleans Pelicans continue their NBA Summer League schedule with a game against the Washington Wizards on Saturday. The team plays two more games after that before concluding the season.
It does not appear that the knee injury would keep Zion Williamson from any other team activities, with indications that he will be ready for the team’s preseason slate in October.