Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) applauds as the Pelicans are...

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) applauds as the Pelicans are introduced before taking on the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Credit: AP/Brett Duke

NEW ORLEANS — No. 1 NBA draft pick Zion Williamson was on the court with the Pelicans at their Tuesday morning shootaround, his first such appearance since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 21 to repair a torn right lateral meniscus. The original projection was a recovery period of 6-8 weeks, which was reached on Monday.

During his pregame news conference before facing the Nets at Smoothie King Arena, coach Alvin Gentry emphasized the Pelicans will take a cautious approach. “He’s on track,” Gentry said. “He’s doing a little bit of things on the court now, and obviously, that will be expanded as time goes by. Everything is OK. There’s not a specific date that we’ve targeted, but he’s making progress in all the areas, so, we’ll evaluate day-to-day.”

Clearly, Williamson has not yet been cleared for contact. Asked specifically what is allowed, Gentry said, “Just be on the court. It’s nothing but standstill shooting right now. You’ve got to understand that we’ve waited this long, so, it’s not going to be a situation where we rush to get him back out there. He’s itching to play and just wants to be out there, but we’ve got to also be smart about the whole situation. When the time comes, we’ll put him out there, and he’ll play.”

Chandler's game expected to grow

Wilson Chandler made his second appearance with the Nets since returning from a 25-game suspension for using a banned substance by scoring two points and grabbing seven rebounds in a win over the 76ers. Coach Kenny Atkinson predicted the 12-year veteran’s role will grow.

“I think his offensive game is pretty simple. He gets to his spots, he shoots open threes, he’ll drive it, he’ll go to the offensive boards. He knows his role, and he’s going to feed off other guys. When they help on Spencer [Dinwiddie], he’s going to get corner threes. You’ll see his offensive abilities grow as the team gets better.”

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