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Zion Williamson on sitting out Summer League: ‘It was more precautionary’

New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 08: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on from the bench against the Chicago Bulls during Day 4 of the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 08, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS — Zion Williamson played nine minutes in one half of one NBA Summer League game, scored 11 points, had some highlights and also made some rookie mistakes in his first game.

Then he was shut down. Not just for the night, but for Summer League. Pelicans VP of Basketball Ops David Griffin said it was out of an “abundance of caution.”

“It was more precautionary,” Williamson himself explained Monday night at the Thomas & Mack after a game where he watched Jaxson Hayes rack up 28 points in a Summer League win.

“It’s very frustrating because, you know me, I’m a competitor and whenever I can play, I want to play,” he later added.

The Pelicans’ decision took the air out of Summer League. The hype about Williamson filled the building that first night (and sold out Day 2, when he did not play), but as news started to make its way around the arena he would not play the second half fans began filing out of the Thomas & Mack (before the earthquake that shut down that game early). Beyond that, there are plenty of reports of fans coming into Las Vegas who turned around and went home because they were not going to get to see Zion.

For the rest of the summer, Williamson himself just talked about the grind.

“Just hone my craft and get ready for the season,” Williamson said.

The Pelicans are considered by many a team that could make a run into the playoffs, they are well built. It’s not a situation most rookies find themselves in, and Williamson said he is excited, but just doesn’t know what to expect.

“I’ve been trying to think about it, like how it’s going to be, but I don’t think I really can,” Williamson said. “We have so much young talent, but older talent too, I’m curious how well it’s going to work.”

Fans are just curious to see him play.