Zion Williamson still has yet to see the floor this season as his interminable recovery from foot surgery has dragged on for months. On Wednesday it was revealed Williamson will continue his rehab on his own, away from the New Orleans Pelicans. It's a perfect metaphor for his situation with the franchise.
When he was actually on the floor during the 2020-21 season, Williamson was brilliant. The 21-year-old was eighth in the NBA in points per game (27.0), while also averaging 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 33.2 minutes per game. He was eighth in field goal percentage (61.1) and fourth in PER (27.17). If he could just stay healthy he'd be an absolute force in the league.
Unfortunately, in the middle of his third season, Zion has played in a total of 85 games. That's a laughably low number. The Pelicans are giving Williamson all the time he needs to heal because of how important he is to their future. The issue is that it doesn't seem like he'll be a part of the franchise for that much longer.
Williams is eligible to sign a max rookie extension at the end of this season. That's a five-year, $181 million deal. While the Pelicans will almost certainly give him that contract -- and, yes, he will accept it -- it's highly unlikely he finishes it in New Orleans. Members of Williamson's family want him to force his way off the Pelicans already and it's not like things are improving for the franchise. They currently have the second-worst record in the Western Conference and are going nowhere.
Williamson wants to win and he also wants the bright lights. He's already gushed about how much he loved playing at Madison Square Garden, and multiple reports suggested he wanted the Knicks to win the draft lottery in 2019.
Frankly, it feels like this is heading for an Anthony Davis-like divorce. The Pelicans were able to score a huge haul of players and picks in exchange for Davis -- another oft-injured No. 1 pick -- and it's likely that happens again. If Williamson proves he can actually stay on the floor, suitors will line up to take him. That's a big "if" though.
At times this season Williamson has looked enormous, which can't be good for that fractured foot he rehabbing. His size is a huge risk for any franchise he plays for, just ask the Pelicans.
The fact that Williamson hasn't played yet, and doesn't seem close to doing so, is just making things worse for New Orleans. There's no telling where this saga ends, but it's almost certain to be disappointing for the Pelicans.