West Notes: Zion, Lillard, Morant, Clippers

PELICANS

Doctors are “encouraged” by the progress of Zion Williamson‘s foot injury, Pelicans coach Willie Green told reporters.

Williamson has yet to play this season and is expected to miss another two-to-three weeks while he awaits another round of scans.

Still, there remains an air of mystery about what is going on with the Pelicans’ young star, according to Scott Kushner of NOLA.com.

“An injury Williamson himself said would not cause him to miss a regular-season game will now sideline him for at least a month,” Kushner wrote. “Yet there’s been no mention of a setback or an explanation of what’s unfolded. Just another delay.”

Williamson, 21, is 6-foot-7 and averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 61 games last season.

Green told reporters that Williamson has been able to practice, just not in a 5-on-5 setting. 

“He’s cutting, doing some work on the floor,” reported Will Guillory of The Athletic. “He still isn’t cleared to do any 5-on-5 work. The plan is for him to get another round of scans in 2-3 weeks that’ll free him up to be a full participant in practice.”

TRAIL BLAZERS

Fans of the 76ers chanted favorably for Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard during their game Monday, but Lillard reiterated he’s happy right where he is.

The Sixers reportedly have been eyeing Lillard as a possible return in a Ben Simmons trade. That said, it appears the Blazers (or Lillard) have very little interest in such a deal.

“I know what it is and what it’s about,” Lillard told reporters of the support from Sixers fans. “I’m a Trail Blazer. I appreciate the love. I appreciate the respect they showed, the desire or whatever.”

GRIZZLIES

Point guard Ja Morant and University of Memphis small forward Emoni Bates have formed a bit of a bond, as relayed by Mark Giannotto of the Commercial Appeal.

“He just told me he’s going to take me under his wing,” Bates said. “We kick it off the court. That’s my guy, for real. Just see him as a big brother. He’s talking to me. Even today when we were playing, telling me where to find the right reads, stuff like that. He was just talking to me, making sure I keep my head in the game, just find the people that’s open and everything like that.”

Bates is 6-foot-9 and was considered a five-star recruit upon committing to Memphis and coach Penny Hardaway in August. He also considered Michigan State (from which he de-committed), Oregon and the G League.

CLIPPERS

Coach Tyronn Lue said the Clippers are still adjusting to life without injured star Kawhi Leonard, who excels on both ends of the floor.

LA can take a lesson from Leonard to keep getting after it even when the shots aren’t dropping, Lue indicated.

“It’s hard,” Lue told reporters, via Mirjam Swanson of the LA Daily News. “You get frustrated when you know you’re getting good shots and you’re not making them, but usually, in the past, it would affect our defense if we weren’t making shots. But this year, that hasn’t been the case. We haven’t been making shots but the guys are still defending, still competing on the defensive end, so if we continue to keep doing that, like I said, shots are gonna fall.”

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