As the New Orleans Pelicans head into the offseason, it has quickly shifted the focus toward star forward Zion Williamson’s long-term future.
The former Duke product is heading into the final year of his rookie deal, holding eligibility to ink a five-year, $181 million max rookie extension. During an interview with reporters on Friday, Williamson didn’t hesitate to voice his desire to sign the deal.
“Of course,” Williamson said via ESPN. “I couldn’t sign it fast enough.”
The 21-year-old’s strong words should quickly erase the doubt that he may want to play elsewhere. The only concern that remains is that he’s missed significant time through his first three seasons, playing in only 85 games.
He missed the entire 2021-22 campaign due to a fracture in his right foot that occurred during the offseason. Williamson ramped up on-court work in recent weeks with the potential of returning, but the Pelicans kept him off the court.
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Head coach Willie Green voiced optimism after hearing that the star forward wants to ink a long-term deal to stay in New Orleans.
“I love that he wants to be here, that he wants to be in the gym, working towards getting healthy, working towards being the best player he can be,” Green said. “We love anyone who wants to be here in New Orleans with this community, with this culture. That’s what we want.”
The Pelicans are hoping he can get past his injury problems to be a key piece of their bright future ahead alongside Brandon Ingram. New Orleans has assembled a promising young roster that could become a prominent factor in the Western Conference for many years ahead.