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Zion Williamson return likely later rather than sooner

TNT reporter Kristen Ledlow said during Tuesday's game broadcast that Zion's return would "definitely" fall outside of the 6-8 window originally forecast.
Credit: AP
New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson pauses during the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the New York Knicks on Friday, July 5, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

NEW ORLEANS — Fans of the floundering New Orleans Pelicans won't be getting their desired life preserver anytime soon it appears.

After Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry told reporters on Monday that Zion Williamson had not begun on court work even though his surgery was six weeks ago and he was initially given a six-to-eight week prognosis for return, TNT reporter Kristen Ledlow said his return would "definitely" fall outside of the 6-8 window originally forecast.

Pelicans' officials have been hesitant to give a clear timeline of Zion's progress or updates on how he is doing that is more than generic, like Gentry saying that “I think he’s fine. “I don’t think it’s anything that can be rushed. I think it’s a time thing. Six weeks is what we said, but obviously, he’s making progress. 

When the time comes for him to start on-court and do things like that, he will. It’s not anything that’s going to be rushed or any shortcut. It’s a matter of taking the time to make sure he’s fine.”

Gentry added that coaches and the Pelicans' medical team will be "overly cautious" about Williamson's recovery and will make sure he does not return until he is 100%.

The Pelicans, who were hot in the summer league and in preseason with Williamson as part of their high-powered run and gun offense, have struggled out of the gate in the regular season with a 6-15 record.

Tuesday night's 118-97 drubbing to the Dallas Mavericks was the team's sixth straight loss. It happened at home in front of a crowd buffeted by preseason sales that were largely based on seeing Zion Williamson.

The Pelicans are obviously being cautious with their top pick and franchise player, especially since the season seems to be slipping away anyway in the ultra-competitive and deep Western Conference. 

Technically the Pels are only four games back from the 8th and final playoff spot but there are six teams they would have to leapfrog.

The Pelicans have had one of the toughest schedules in the league to start the season and have been in most games but have often faltered at the end.