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Pelicans star Williamson leaves NBA bubble for family issue

New Orleans Pelicans rookie star Zion Williamson departed the NBA bubble in Orlando on Thursday to deal with an urgent family medical matter, the club announced.

Williamson intends to return to the Pelicans for the restart of the NBA’s 2019-20 season at a later time, the team said in a statement.

“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said.

No details were released about the nature of the medical issue, what family members were involved or what might be his potential return timetable.

“Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time,” Griffin said.

Williamson will need to have COVID-19 exams and return to quarantine in his hotel room once he returns before he can rejoin the Pelicans.

The 20-year-old power forward has become the young superstar face of the NBA despite a knee injury last October that delayed his NBA debut until January and the coronavirus shutdown that halted his rookie campaign early.

The slam-dunking standout was the first teen in NBA history to score 20 or more points in 10 consecutive games.

Williamson has averaged 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists this season. He scored a season-high 35 points in a 122-114 loss in March to the Los Angeles Lakers, the team the Pelicans might face in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The NBA season was halted on March 11 after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Players are training in a quarantine atmosphere in Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and will play games there without fans to finish the season and playoffs starting July 30.

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