But it’s not for a lack of effort by the Pelicans.
As Windhorst and Lopez relayed, the Pelicans have even changed their culinary practices to fit Williamson, who has struggled to stay within his targeted playing weight.
That indicates they are mixing up the team’s entire menu to help Williamson with his diet. But when you’re relying on Williamson as much as the Pelicans are, that would make sense.
As for when he’ll make his season debut, it remains hard to say. He suffered a fractured foot during the offseason and has been recovering from the ensuing surgery since.
The Pelicans announced Tuesday that the former No. 1 overall pick can now participate in one-on-one contact drills and is taking steps toward a return. He is scheduled to undergo more medical imaging on Nov. 24, when he could be cleared for full practices.
“There is still some work to do in front of him, but it’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel,” Pelicans coach Willie Green told reporters.
Either way, New Orleans has not done itself any favors from a PR standpoint, it seems.
“It kept the injury and surgery quiet, sources said, out of respect to Williamson and his preference for privacy,” Windhorst and Lopez wrote. “Then instead of announcing a complete timetable, it did incremental updates that made it seem like he was having setbacks whether that was accurate or not.
“That strategy may have helped with the front office’s relationship with the franchise player, but it hurt the team’s credibility with its fan base. It has made it challenging to accept subsequent updates at face value.”
Williamson, 21, is 6-foot-7 and averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 61 games last season. The Pelicans (2-14) sport the NBA’s second-worst record, with just one more win than the Rockets.