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Alvin Gentry expects ‘a little bit of flexibility’ with Zion Williamson’s minutes

Pelicans, Zion Williamson, Alvin Gentry

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry suggested there will be “a little bit of flexibility” with the minute allotment for rookie Zion Williamson.

“There will be a little bit of flexibility, but we haven’t discussed that yet (in terms of tonight),” said Gentry, according to Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com. “I hope that eventually, these questions go away in the next couple games.”

Williamson memorably played in four-to-five-minute spurts during his debut last week, but has since seen his minutes ramp up effectively, going from 18 in his NBA debut to 21 in his second game against the Nuggets to 27 minutes in a surprising win against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

The star rookie has put up two 20-point games in his three outings since returning from a torn meniscus injury he suffered during the preseason, and he is now moving much more comfortably than he did during the first three quarters of his debut.

The Pelicans were expected to move him along slowly, catering to his recovery schedule and the natural progression, but if New Orleans is to make a playoff push, the team will need Williamson as a threat at both ends of the floor.

Williamson will play his first NBA road game on Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Gentry argues the hostility of a road crowd won’t faze him:

“He’s been in a lot of situations (already),” said Gentry. “If you’re a Duke guy and you play at Chapel Hill (against North Carolina), it doesn’t get any tougher than that.”

Williamson is averaging 19.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in his initial stint in the league despite the limited minutes on the court, and if he keeps thriving in his role, it won’t take long before the Pelicans ensure he’s on the floor when it counts the most.