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Zion Williamson’s return delayed (again), workouts scaled back due to foot issue

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 13: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans stands on the court prior to the start of a NBA game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Smoothie King Center on November 13, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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Injuries to the fifth metatarsal in the foot can be slow to heal because blood flow to that area of the foot — the bone between the little toe and the ankle — is not very strong.

That may be the case with Zion Williamson. He underwent foot surgery during the offseason, has been working his way back, but again the Pelicans have slowed his return and scaled back his workouts because his foot is not healing as hoped. Here is the official press release from the Pelicans:

“After experiencing persistent soreness in his right foot, Zion Williamson underwent medical imaging which showed a regression in the bone healing of his fifth metatarsal. As a result, the volume and intensity of his training will be reduced for an extended period to help allow for further bone healing. Additional updates will be provided as warranted.”

There remains no official timeline for Zion’s return. The Pelicans have been cautious with his return — as they have always been around his injuries — and the team needs to know his foot is ready for the stress of NBA games and that he is in condition for those games before clearing him to play. There have been multiple reports of Zion being heavier than the team would like entering training camp and during rehab.

Zion has averaged 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game over his career.

The Pelicans are 8-20 on the season, in last place in the Western Conference, and four games back of even the last play-in spot in the West. It’s time for the Pelicans to think about the long-term not making a push this season, setting the club up for next season, and trying things that could pay dividends down the line.

Next summer, they also will face the question of whether to offer a contract extension to Zion off his rookie deal.