LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Zion Williamson will be out of quarantine by the time New Orleans plays in the first official game of the NBA restart at Walt Disney World.
Whether the Pelicans will play him that night or not remains anyone’s guess.
The NBA said Saturday that Williamson will have to serve a four-day quarantine for leaving the league’s Disney bubble on July 16 to tend to an urgent family matter. He returned to Disney on Friday night and immediately went into quarantine.
That means he will likely be released from quarantine sometime Tuesday, two days before the Pelicans play the first ”seeding game” against the Utah Jazz.
A person familiar with the situation said that if all goes well with Williamson’s quarantine, he can return to team activities during a practice scheduled for Tuesday night. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because such plans have not been completed and cannot be until Williamson passes more tests now that he has returned to Disney.
”The most important thing is we hope everything’s OK with him,” Pelicans forward Derrick Favors said Saturday, shortly after the NBA revealed the four-day quarantine determination. ”He went away for personal reasons. So, it’s good to see. Whatever it was, hope everything went fine and OK and he’s back with us. And I know everybody’s excited to have him back. I know he’s excited to be back.”
Williamson was tested daily during his absence and continually came back negative for COVID-19, which helped his hopes for a shorter quarantine upon his return to Disney. The league has said quarantine for those who leave the bubble can last as much as 10 days or more if those individuals are not tested daily while they are away.
The No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games this season for the Pelicans, who are one of six teams in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
NBA coaches started wearing a large pin during games this weekend, the message reading ”Coaches for Racial Justice.”
It’s not uncommon for NBA coaches to wear pins or ribbons to support various causes. This one is different, being roughly the size of a business card and the words written in large, red type – the thinking being that coaches want the words noticed.
”We’re coaches and we’re teachers or maybe even educators,” Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford, himself a former special education teacher when he was a high school coach, said Saturday. ”But the key is to work with people who understand how we can get things changed and that’s law, that’s policies, procedure.”
NBA coaches, with a committee led by Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce, have been working with noted lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative on how best to use their platform and promote change during the NBA restart. Players have been vocal with their wishes, the NBA had ”Black Lives Matter” painted on the game courts and coaches wanted to be involved as much as possible as well.
”I don’t think anybody’s looking to do photo ops,” Clifford said. ”I think what we’re trying to do are things that can be positive and sustainable.”
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.