After a report came out that the New Orleans Pelicans' former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson was officially ruled out for the remainder of the year, most fans thought they'd have to wait to see him play next season.
Despite the report, Williamson's stepdad is coming out and denying it all, claiming that Zion could see action on the court as soon as this season.
On an episode of 'The Jordy Culotta Show,' Lee Anderson (Zion's stepdad) made an appearance for an interview where he spoke on his expectations for Williamson to suit up for the Pels' final regular-season games. Anderson added that with the team still vying for position in the postseason, Zion's return could help get the team into a seven-game series which Anderson said would be "off the charts" for the city of New Orleans.
“I expect him to play. If you were to ask Zion, I’m sure he would probably say the same thing,” Anderson said. “But with just a couple of games left, with the magnitude of what’s going on in New Orleans and the opportunity to qualify for the play-in game and possibly get into a seven-game series, that would be off the charts in the city of New Orleans. That would be a plus in New Orleans. That would be a plus for Zion with the way things are right now.”
Williamson has been cleared by the franchise to do some 1-on-1 work as he continues his recovery from a foot injury that sidelined him for the entire season. The Pels star created a bit of buzz in March after he posted a video of himself doing a crazy between the legs dunk, which many fans and media pundits called a "good sign" that the 21-year-old star is recovering.
Although Anderson paints a different picture of Zion's return, NBA insider Shams Charania confirmed that Williamson would be out indefinitely for the rest of the season late last month. While he may not be right about his son's return, Anderson did pour cold water over another rumor after alleging that Pelicans staffers told him that they are "one player away" from where they want to be, indicating that Williamson is in the teams' long term future.
"He's feeling great," Anderson said. "Speaking for the Pelicans staff, and not saying any names, they mentioned to me that they are just one player away from being where we need to be at. That was enough for me to know that they are putting some stock in Zion getting healthy and being ready for the long haul."
"But my thing with the long haul, you have to wait on it. The short haul, sometimes when you’re faced with an opportunity right now, you never know when you’re going to be presented with that opportunity again in the long haul or how long it’ll be from that time. I’m a guy that believes in taking advantage of the moment at hand. Let’s deal with it right now and let’s go forward and see what happens.”
The rumor in question stems from a report that Zion and his family were upset with the Pelicans organization for how the franchise treated his injury during the NBA bubble in Orlando during his rookie season in 2020.
Anderson continues to crush those rumors by saying he and the rest of Williamson's family are "enjoying New Orleans" and that any animosity Zion had towards the team comes as a result of losing.
“We have not sourced information to anybody on Zion’s behalf at any time,” Anderson said of the Williamson family. “If anybody can come back and say we said that, we’ll discount that. We’re enjoying New Orleans. We’re enjoying the fabric. We love the pickups that the Pelicans have made the last month or so. We’re excited about that. We think the acquisitions they have made and Zion being on the mend 110%, we think the future is very bright in New Orleans right now.”
Although things still remain murky with Williamson, the Pelicans sit at the 9th spot in the Western Conference (34–44) which puts them in the play-in tournament with only four games left in the regular season.
Does Zion suit up for the postseason? Who knows. After missing a whole season's worth of conditioning and chemistry with the rest of the roster, Anderson's interview should likely be taken with a grain of salt.
Follow Jasper Jones on Twitter: @jonesj2342