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Zion Williamson will be ready for regular-season re-opener [UPDATE]

Pelicans PF had been away due to an urgent family emergency. Now, Williamson is back and expected to be ready for the start of the season.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson in action against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: July 25 — Williamson will be in quarantine for four days before returning to team activities. After that, he’ll be ready to go for the Pelicans regular-season re-opener against the Utah Jazz.

UPDATE: July 24 — Williamson has returned to the NBA bubble in Orlando after leaving due to an urgent medical emergency involving a family member.

Now that we know Zion is going to be back in time for the start of the regular season for the Pelicans, we can go back to being very, very afraid of the Pelicans. New Orleans blew out a shorthanded Brooklyn Nets squad in their first scrimmage in the bubble. Adding Williamson back to the fold will only increase the potency of the offense. The Pelicans have work to do, but are set up nicely to make a run at the No. 8 seed.

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson is leaving the NBA bubble in Orlando earlier than expected. The rookie forward is stepping away from his team to deal with an urgent medical emergency involving a family member, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. He still plans to return and play for New Orleans this season at a later date, but the details on when that will happen are up in the air.

The Pelicans are set to play their first game since March against the Utah Jazz on July 30, and Williamson is an essential piece to their playoff push. Having him available will be important vital to New Orleans as it looks to compete against the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and others for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

It’s unclear how long Williamson will be away from the bubble, but protocol will require him to undergo enhanced, invasive coronavirus testing that involves a long nose swab. He will also have to be quarantined for at least four days before he can participate in team activities. His 23.6 points per game this year are second to only Brandon Ingram’s mark of 24.3, so his extended absence could deal a critical blow to the team’s offensive upside and title odds.

New Orleans’ odds to secure the eighth seed are +300 on DraftKings Sportsbook, but expect those could drop if Williamson misses more than one of the eight regular season games remaining.