Storyline: Zion Williamson Injury

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Zion Williamson’s NBA Summer League experience ended after one half of basketball. And his former coach thinks he never should’ve played Summer League to begin with. “No, I thought really he never should’ve played just because he’s been on this circuit of awards, the ESPYs, everything,” Coach K told me at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., where he’s recruiting this week. “I don’t think he’s in the playing shape or the mental shape to play.”

“Yeah, he’s OK,” said Coach K, who remains in touch with both Williamson and Barrett, whom he says will end up being just fine with the Knicks despite his early Summer League struggles. “Zion will move forward from this issue without incident,” said Pelicans executive VP David Griffin. “However, in an abundance of caution, we have made the determination that he will not appear in game action for the remainder of the NBA Summer League. He will continue to take part in training and conditioning with our performance team.”

Many suggested Williamson, projected to be selected first in the 2019 NBA Draft, should have ended his collegiate career and focused on preparing for life as a professional. But as he prepares to make his return against Syracuse in the quarter-finals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday, Williamson says that was not an option for him. “For the people that think I should stop playing in college and just focus on the NBA: thanks, but no thanks,” he told NCAA.com.

But he’s emphatic when asked about Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson, whose knee injury renewed the heated debate over the NBA’s eligibility rules. “Why would you keep playing?” Drummond said Friday morning. “All the money that they making off this kid, why wouldn’t he just sit out? “He’s selling out arenas. People pay $10,000 to see him and he gets hurt and gets none of that money spent to see him play. You have to think about yourself because you could have a career-ending injury and that’s the rest of the story for him. I’d rather him take care of himself and get himself prepared. We all know he’s going to the draft so start working out and get yourself ready for a tough, grueling league.”

“Whatever he decides to do, he should be supported,” Griffin said following the Pistons’ 125-122 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. “If he didn’t want to play anymore, I get it. But if you do want to play, he plays basketball, he’s a basketball player. I also get that, too. You can’t live or play the game of basketball playing scared of injury or scared of things you can’t control. “It’s an individual decision. I made the decision (to return to OU for his sophomore season) to improve my game. I wanted to get stronger and be more ready for the league when a lot of people were telling me not to, get that guaranteed money. “He’s already made so money for that university, the NCAA, he doesn’t owe anybody anything.”

For two days, former and current NBA players weighed in on what Williamson’s next step should be; call it a career and prepare for the draft or rejoin his Duke teammates when healthy? “It’s a tough call,” said former Syracuse All-America Billy Owens, the third overall pick of the 1991 draft. “There’s a lot of money out there. I don’t think he should risk it.” “I know I would play,” said Coleman, who sat beside Owens. “As long as he’s healthy, why shouldn’t he play? He’s got a chance to win a national championship.”
8 months ago via ESPN

“We would never play a kid who’s not ready,” Krzyzewski said. “We would never play a youngster who didn’t want to play. It’s not about that. He wants to play. He loves being at Duke. He doesn’t like being injured. It’s an injury you can get over in a shorter period of time. There’s just a protocol that we have to go through to make sure he’s completely ready. We’re not rushing anything, so that’s why we said day-to-day because it’s literally day-to-day.”

Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson suffered a mild knee sprain in the first half against North Carolina on Wednesday, coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. Just 33 seconds into the contest, Williamson ripped through his shoe and winced in pain while grabbing the back of his leg. The 6’7″, 275-pound forward left for the locker room immediately afterward and did not return. “We’re very concerned about Zion,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s a mild knee sprain. We will know about length of time tomorrow but it’s stable so that’s good, but obviously it changes the game. We were knocked back a bit but we fought like crazy.”
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