It was announced last week that Williamson’s injury rehabilitation is taking longer than expected.
It’s taking so long, in fact, that Williamson is now rehabbing away from the team, reportedly in Portland, Oregon.
The Pelicans say Zion Williamson has been doing his rehab away from the team. He is still under supervision of the team.
Sources say the Pelicans arranged for transportation out of New Orleans for Williamson. Further updates on Zion's status are expected in the next few weeks.
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) January 5, 2022
When Williamson’s foot injury was announced in the summer, fans were hopeful that he would only miss some of the NBA season but it now feels like he will miss the whole thing.
This is putting the Pelicans in a very tricky position because, according to them, Williamson is still the future of the team.
But how long are they supposed to wait for his greatness to grace the floor again?
What are the options for New Orleans and which one should they take?
3. Don’t Do Anything
This is the choice that New Orleans is currently sticking with: they are riding this out and hoping that Williamson really is coming back and really is ready to perform like he did before he went down.
You can’t really blame them: before his injury, Williamson was averaging 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a game.
The 6-foot-6 big man was a menace on the court and at times very much looked like the number one draft pick he was.
The cries that rang out through the streets of the Big Easy when Williamson was drafted are still echoing and the team doesn’t want to give him up just yet.
Williamson and his New Orleans squad never reached the potential they promised and there is hope that they still can.
New Orleans isn’t ready to cut and run from Williamson – yet.
2. Build Around Him
If the Pelicans don’t want to cut Williamson loose and also don’t want to sit and do nothing, they can always build a team around him.
The team can assemble a roster that is missing just one piece: Williamson.
They have already done that in many ways because there are some talented players in New Orleans.
Brandon Ingram leads the pack with 22.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists a game.
.@jvalanciunas is shooting 42.7% from three this season 🔥🔥
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 10, 2022
The team is only 14-26 and the 13th team in the West but it has a lot of promise.
However, if New Orleans is looking to make the team even better for Williamson’s eventual return, they will have to trade away some of that up-and-coming talent.
Ingram would likely have to go, so would Valanciunas too.
But, in exchange, they could land one All-Star or maybe a couple of sizable players.
If the Pelicans want to be a lot more stellar for Williamson’s re-entry, they will need to part ways with some of the most promising players they have.
1. Trade Him
Here’s the nuclear option for the Pelicans: they can trade Williamson.
Perhaps they need to take all their eggs out of his basket and instead invest in Ingram, Valanciunas, and the others.
Even with his injury, Williamson can garner a lot of interest across the NBA – the team would be able to get a lot in return for him.
So if New Orleans is tired of waiting and wants to finally start moving into the future, they might have to do that without Williamson.
The chances of this happening are still slim – but the longer they wait for Williamson, the more and more likely it becomes.