NBA Rumors: Big-name star not expected back for NBA Play-In Tournament

Zion Williamson (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

NBA Rumors: Zion Williamson is not expected to be back for the New Orleans Pelicans when they participate in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

For the New Orleans Pelicans, it’s been a tale of two seasons. There’s the Pelicans before Zion Williamson’s injury and then the Pelicans after his injury. Before the Zion injury, the Pelicans were sitting close to the top of the Western Conference standings. Since the injury, though, they’ve fallen all the way down to 8th in the standings.

To top it off, the Pelicans got an unfortunate update regarding Zion and his potential availability for the NBA postseason. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Zion is not expected to be back for the Pelicans when they begin their postseason run with the Play-In Tournament.

The team, as you would expect, is electing to play it safe and allow Zion to continue to rehab at a slow pace. Considering the Pelicans aren’t expected to make much noise in the playoffs, it would’ve been odd for Zion to rush toward a return before the playoffs.

The New Orleans Pelicans will have to play their way into the NBA Playoffs

With just a couple of games remaining in the NBA regular season, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Pelicans will likely have to play their way into the NBA Playoffs. At the moment, they’re sitting in the 8th seed and will likely have two chances to qualify as either the 7th seed or the 8th seed via the Play-In Tournament.

From where the standings are at the moment, the Pelicans would play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first Play-In Tournament game for the 7th seed and if they were to lose, they would get another shot against the 9th vs. 10th seed winner to qualify for the playoffs as the 8th seed.

On one hand, it’s quite a shame that Zion won’t be back for the Play-In Tournament and likely the playoffs. It would’ve been interesting to see how a fully healthy Pelicans team would stack up against the Denver Nuggets but at the same time, it’s probably in the best interest of the Pelicans to play it safe with Zion.

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The last thing that the Pelicans need is for Zion to suffer a setback that would force him to miss the entire offseason and/or the beginning of next season.