Zion Williamson leaves NBA bubble to deal with an ‘urgent family matter’

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson grabs a rebound during a game against the Celtics on Jan. 26.
(Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)

New Orleans rookie sensation Zion Williamson has left the NBA’s Orlando, Fla., campus to deal with an “urgent family matter,” the Pelicans announced Thursday. The hope is that he’ll return at some point.

“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”

Williamson and the Pelicans were considered by some to be the favorites to earn the eighth seed in the West despite currently being in 10th place. After missing most of the season, Williamson returned to play 19 games before the shutdown March 11. He’s averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on 58.9% shooting.

Philadelphia 76ers rookie and former Washington star Matisse Thybulle spends much of his day shooting, editing and posting videos inside the NBA bubble.

According to league protocols, a player who leaves campus is subject to at least 10 days of quarantine upon reentry. The return is also subject to a deep nasal swab test. If the absence is due to “extenuating circumstances” with league approval, the quarantine could be as short as four days upon return, provided the player is undergoing daily testing off campus.