Williamson returns to bubble, as others dealing with issues

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FILE - In this March 6, 2020, file photo, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson walks onto the court during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in New Orleans. The rookie sensations availability to play remained unclear as the seasons resumption in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, approached. He left the NBAs so-called bubble setup on July 16 to attend to an unspecified family medical matter. A week later, the club had yet to provide an update on his possible return. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza, File)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Zion Williamson is back in the NBA bubble, after tending to a family situation.

He won't be the last to go through the re-initiation process.

The New Orleans rookie, the No. 1 pick in last year's NBA draft, returned to Walt Disney World on Friday night and immediately went back into quarantine. There was no immediate announcement about how long he would remain separated from the Pelicans, but being back now suggests that it is possible he could play when New Orleans faces Utah on July 30 in the first seeding game of the NBA restart.

“My family and I appreciate the love and respect that everyone showed us while we dealt with a private family matter,” Williamson said Friday night in a statement. “I’m excited to rejoin my team in Orlando and look forward to getting back on the court with my teammates after the quarantine.”

Williamson spent eight days outside the bubble. He was tested daily during his absence for COVID-19, and all those tests were negative. That will likely shorten the amount of time he will spend in quarantine.

And there are going to be more than a few NBA people very interested to see how Williamson's return process works — because similar ones await other players as well.

Two people with knowledge of the situations said Friday that both Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers and Austin Rivers of the Houston Rockets have added themselves to the list of players who have left the NBA campus at Walt Disney World to tend to family issues. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because neither player disclosed his absence publicly.

Among the others who have left the bubble so far for what were described as family reasons are Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley.