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Zion Williamson leaves Pelicans, NBA bubble for urgent family matter

(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza, File)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans say top overall draft choice Zion Williamson left the club on Thursday to attend to an urgent family medical matter.

The Pelicans say Williamson intends to rejoin the team in the Orlando area for the resumption of the season, but the club did not specify when he would be able to return or whether he’ll miss any games.

Williamson will have to quarantine again when he returns to Central Florida, a period that will last at least four days and could be significantly longer if he is not tested daily during his absence from the team.

“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said. “Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”

Williamson, who starred for one season at Duke, has averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games this season after missing the New Orleans’ first 44 games while recovering from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery.

He is a key piece for a New Orleans team that is 3.5 games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Pelicans are one of five teams, including the Phoenix Suns, chasing the Memphis Grizzlies and hoping to take their No. 8 place in the standings in the eight-game seeding restart.

Phoenix is 6.0 games behind Memphis and behind the Pelicans by 2.5 games.

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