New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said Zion Williamson is expected to make his long-awaited season debut at home on Jan. 22 against the San Antonio Spurs, according to ESPN's Andrew Lopez.
Griffin added that the rookie phenom won't be on a minutes restriction when he returns to the lineup, according to The Athletic's Will Guillory. The 47-year-old executive did say in December that Williamson will "very likely" be held out of back-to-backs initially.
Williamson underwent surgery to repair a torn right lateral meniscus prior to the beginning of the season. He was initially given a recovery timetable of six-to-eight weeks.
The 19-year-old has endured knee problems dating back to his lone collegiate season at Duke. He missed six games for the Blue Devils after suffering a Grade 1 right knee sprain and was later limited to nine minutes of summer league play due to a bruised left knee.
But Griffin said neither he nor Williamson ever contemplated the rookie sitting out the entire season, and that the plan is to get the No. 1 overall pick into two more practices before his first NBA game, according to Lopez.
Williamson enjoyed a strong preseason before sustaining the injury, averaging 23.3 points on 71.4% shooting while adding 6.5 boards and 2.3 assists per contest.
Despite Williamson's extended absence, New Orleans is within four games of the Memphis Grizzlies for the Western Conference's eighth seed.