Zion Williamson didn't play a single second for the New Orleans Pelicans this season due to a broken foot, and while he was sidelined some speculation began to swirl regarding his desire -- or lack thereof -- to remain in New Orleans long-term. However, Williamson tried to squash such speculation while speaking to media members at a camp he was hosting recently at a New Orleans area YMCA.
"I do want to be here. That's no secret," Williamson said of New Orleans, via ESPN. "I feel like I've stood on that when I spoke.. It was a long year for me for rehab and mental battles. I'm fine now. I'm ready to get to work."
Despite the fact that he didn't play at all during the '21-22 campaign, Williamson is eligible for a massive contract extension this offseason, and in April he stated that he Pelicans as quickly as possible, if offered.with the
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"Of course. Of course. I wouldn't be able to sign it fast enough," Williamson said at the time, before uttering some words that had to sound like music to the ears of Pelicans fans: "I can't control rumors and how people feel about certain things, but anybody that knows me knows I want to be here."
That noise you just heard was a collective sigh of relief emanating from New Orleans. Seriously though, after the way the Pelicans performed without him this season, there's real reason for Williamson to be genuinely enthusiastic about the team's future. After starting the season 1-12, they rallied and were ultimately able to claim the eighth seed in the West, and they pushed the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round. In addition to established stars Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, the Pelicans also got major contributions from a trio of promising rookies: Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III and Jose Alvarado.
The Pelicans' future appears to be pretty bright with their roster as currently constructed. At least Williamson seems to think so.
"It sucked watching from the sideline, but I got to see our potential," he said. "We've got a lot of great pieces, and I'm excited to get on the court with those guys. ... You saw it on the court. We have a special group. I truly believe that. ... I'm one of those people that believes the more your team wins, the more individual awards will come. So, with a special group, a coach like Willie [Green], I think a lot of great things will happen."
Given the potential he has shown when he has been healthy -- he averaged 27 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2020-21 -- combined with how much the organization has invested in him, it seems like a near-certainty that the Pelicans will indeed offer Williamson an extension this summer. If you take Williamson at his word, then he will sign it, and the two sides will move forward together. Things could change in the coming weeks, but for now it sure seems like we will continue to see Williamson in a Pelicans uniform for the foreseeable future.