Soreness in surgically repaired foot delays return of New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson

METAIRIE, La. -- Zion Williamson's return to the NBA floor has been delayed because of soreness in his surgically repaired right foot, the New Orleans Pelicans announced Thursday afternoon.

Williamson was supposed to participate in his first full practice on Thursday but was held out because of the soreness he had been experiencing in the past few days. While not a sharp pain, the soreness has persisted. The team does not believe it will be a major issue moving forward, but they are proceeding with caution.

"It's a part of the process," Pelicans coach Willie Green said. "When you're dealing with injuries and you ramp up some, there's a possibility you can deal with a little bit of soreness which he's dealing with now."

The most recent set of imaging on Nov. 24 showed no additional damage, so the team does not believe there has been a reinjury or new injury.

Williamson had progressed to 4-on-4 full-court work, but the team will dial back his workload over the next few days. He will go back to low-impact work in hopes the soreness goes away and then ramp back up from there.

"We're very optimistic in that sense," Green said. "Hopefully the soreness goes away in a few days and he can get back to work."

Green said Williamson was frustrated with the news but understands it's a part of the process.

"It's more important to be patient," Green said. "We're talking about somebody's career. Anytime you're dealing with that aspect of professional sports, that is important to remember. That's how we're looking at this. It's being diligent about getting him back on the floor. And that's a part of what we're dealing with right now."

The Pelicans are also trying to be mindful of dealing with the foot injury and not causing any sort of new damage.

"I think that's the biggest part of us wanting to dial back and reevaluate where we are," Green said. "We don't want to put our guys on the floor and put their careers at stake or in jeopardy. All of our guys are too important to do something like that."

Williamson has not played in a game this season because of the fracture in his right foot. New Orleans is off to a 6-18 start without its All-Star forward.

The Pelicans did make a roster move Thursday, adding forward Gary Clark on a nonguaranteed deal, sources said.

Despite having 15 players, New Orleans can add Clark because Didi Louzada is serving a 25-game league suspension and is on the suspension list. Clark will need to be waived by Jan. 7 when contracts are guaranteed or New Orleans can retain him if a roster spot opens.

In eight games in the G-League with the Mexico City Capitanes, Clark was averaging 14.4 points and 6.9 rebounds.

Clark made his NBA debut in 2018 and has played with Houston, Orlando, Denver and Philadelphia in his career.

Information from ESPN's Bobby Marks was used in this report.