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The Pelicans released some not-so-good news Friday.
The team confirmed forward Zion Williamson is out indefinitely with a fractured left finger. It’s unclear exactly when the 6-foot-7, 284-pound star suffered the injury, though David Griffin has his ideas of how it happened.
“Quite frankly, he’s injured because of the open season that there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint,” the Pelicans’ executive said. “He has been absolutely mauled in the paint on a regular basis to the point where other players have said to him, ‘I’m going to keep doing this to you’ because they don’t call it. There is more violence encouraged in the paint than any player I’ve seen since Shaq. It was egregious and horrific then. The same is true now.”
There wasn’t any disagreement from coach Stan Van Gundy
“[Williamson] certainly takes a lot of hits,” he told reporters before Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers. “We’ve been on the referees hard, I know I have been every game. … The guy gets hit all the time.”
The news comes as the 30-36 Pelicans — already without center Steven Adams, forward Brandon Ingram and guard Josh Hart among others — fight for a spot in the play-in tournament. They head into Friday’s matchup 2.5 games behind the Spurs for the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, the last spot in the play-in round.
“We’ve got five of our top-8 guys out,” Van Gundy said. “It is tough. It’s tough to have put ourselves back in the hunt over these last four games and have this happen. That’s what it is.”
Williamson, 20, is averaging 27 points and 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists this season. There is no treatment plan or timetable for his return just yet, as the team is continued to evaluate the injury.
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