Image courtesy: Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

The New Orleans Pelicans remain optimistic, and heavily cautious at the same time, in handling the case of Zion Williamson’s long-term availability. 

As written by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez, the Pelicans are doing extensive efforts to support the star forward, even modifying staff members and culinary practices to uplift his health. As such, team general manager David Griffin did his part in protecting Williamson from missed calls, calling out league officials which resulted in a fine.

“The Pelicans have poured resources, time and energy to protect Williamson’s health. They have changed members of the staff and even changed some of their culinary practices in an attempt to support him. They have talked with him about protecting his body from extra hits. Griffin has stood up for him privately, sending video clips to the league to illustrate how Williamson was getting beat up. When that didn’t work, Griffin ripped NBA referees publicly for not protecting Williamson and was fined $50,000.”

Williamson, though appearing to be a generational talent with his uncanny abilities and extreme athleticism, has been a subject of doubts prior to his rookie year in the league, drawing concerns from fans, reporters and executives due to his unreal weight issues.

Last month, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer provided a report wherein the New Orleans’ staff members were bothered on Williamson’s body appearance upon appearing in training camp — as they estimated that the 21-year-old wonderkind has reached the near-300 lbs mark. 

On Nov. 16, Williamson was announced eligible for team contact drills and will proceed to 1-on-1 practices after being sidelined since the offseason, due to his left foot surgery — a huge step on his recovery journey. He’ll be re-evaluated on Nov. 24 if he can finally participate in 5-on-5 scrimmages. 

The Pelicans are currently 2-14 and in the deepest part of the tight Western Conference. While things are getting rough so far, preparing the 2019 No. 1 overall pick to be conditioned in his return remains a priority in a long-term perspective.