NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — New Orleans Pelicans rookie forward sensation Zion Williamson will be sidelined up to two months after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Monday just as a new NBA season is about to begin.
The Pelicans play in the league’s opening game at defending champion Toronto on Tuesday, when Williamson’s debut was expected to be the main attraction.
Instead, it’s being put on hold after a smashing pre-season run in which Williamson averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists a game in four appearances for New Orleans.
The Pelicans said Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 entry draft, was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and is not expected to return for six to eight weeks.
Williamson, 19, had been on fire in the NBA preseason but underwent tests on the right knee on Friday when soreness persisted and doctors recommended surgery to fix the problem.
It’s the same knee that Williamson — who has excited NBA fans like no rookie since LeBron James — famously sprained in college when his Nike shoe exploded during a game.
“We have a deep team,” guard JJ Redick said. “We’ll hold it down as best as we can without him. Obviously we need him back. Hopefully he takes his time and recovers fully.”
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters Friday that Williamson is “not dead, guys,” and rather is in good spirits after apparently suffering the injury against San Antonio last Sunday.
In the Vegas Summer League, Williamson played only nine minutes before he banged left knees in a collision and was benched for the remainder of the summer league NBA games.
© Agence France-Presse