The 2021-22 NBA season was a nightmare for Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans player who was unable to play a single game due to a fractured right foot. The team has been patient with the power forward and remains committed to keeping him as the leader of their draft, but rumors have circulated about a possible departure of the young star.
Williamson is already training with the Pelicans, continuing his rehab after New Orleans cleared Williamson to return to unrestricted play on May 26.
During a check-in for a youth and basketball camp at a YMCA in New Orleans, Zion was questioned about whether or not he intends to remain with the Pelicans.
“I do want to be here. That’s no secret. I feel like I’ve stood on that when I spoke. Currently, this does not really have anything to do with that. This is just me wanting to be a pillar in my community,” Williamson said to reporters.
“It was a long year for me or rehab and mental battles. I’m fine now. I’m ready to get to work,” the forward added, although when asked about extending his contract with New Orleans, he only responded “you have to ask the Pels, baby.”
Williamson highlights his team’s season
Zion’s focus in recent weeks has not been on the 2022 NBA Finals, or at least that’s what he said, noting that his teammates showed an outstanding performance by winning two Play-In games and playing the first-round series against Phoenix.
“Pels in the first round. That’s all I needed to see to really be excited to get back out there, it was exciting to see young players. Jose [Alvarado], Trey [Murphy III], Herb [Jones], Jaxson [Hayes]. Just blossoming into players I knew they could be and they knew they could be. Then watching [Brandon Ingram]. The name speaks for itself. Then CJ [McCollum] being added, it was something to watch. The fans made it so much better,” Williamson said.
New Orleans has no doubts about Zion’s continuity
Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin has also endorsed Williamson’s tenure with the team.
“I think is not a big decision, it’s a pretty easy decision. The kid’s historically good when he plays, two different ways. So he played a season being historically good as a back-to-the-basket big, and he played a season being historically good as Point Zion. So, this is the max player. That’s easy,” Griffin told The Ryen Russillo Podcast.
“What becomes significant as a team that’s a small market team and a team that can’t make mistakes in terms of injuries over time, you have to indemnify yourself in some way for that, and that’s fine. But the decision of whether or not this is a max player is a very easy one,” he added.