Zion 'wants to hoop,' will be a game-time decision in opener vs. Jazz

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New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said it will be "a game-time decision" whether or not rookie forward Zion Williamson will play in the team's opener against the Utah Jazz Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

"That's something that I will leave up to the medical staff. I mean, obviously as a coach, you want him out there as much as you possibly can have him out there, but we have guys that are better equipped to make those decisions than I am from just a health standpoint and a minutes played standpoint," Gentry said. "It will be collectively something that's done by sitting down and talking about it, trying to figure it out if he does end up playing [tomorrow night]."

Williamson participated in practice this week for the first time since leaving the NBA's bubble in Orlando to tend to an urgent family matter.

He told reporters Wednesday that he didn't do much basketball work while he was away from the team and was limited in what he could do when he returned to the team as he was forced to quarantine per NBA protocol. Because of those limitations, Williamson recognized he's not in "game shape."

"The NBA isn’t something you can usually just jump straight into, especially after something like that," he said. "So I think, like I said, me and my team are going to look to see what’s best and if I’m ready to go out there.”

Williamson, however, won't turn down the opportunity to play if it's presented to him.

"I think me and my team are going to look at what’s best for me and my future and being safe," he said. "But if you know me, I want to hoop. That’s just how I am. I’m never going to change. I’m going to want to hoop, it’s as simple as that.”