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Zion Williamson wants to stay with the New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans star was forced to watch the season from the sidelines, but with his return imminent, focus has shifted to ‘will he stay or will he go?’

Update:
Zion Williamson wants to stay with the New Orleans Pelicans
Mike LawrieAFP

The road to recovery has been long and hard for the Pelicans star, but as he nears his return to the court he’s making it clear that he’s exactly where he wants to be.

Zion Williamson reaffirms Pelicans commitment

As one of the most sought after young players in the NBA Zion Williamson is accustomed to the pressure that goes along with being a top talent. That, however, couldn’t prepare him for what he has faced over the last year. Having not played a single second of basketball for the New Orleans Pelicans this season due to a broken foot and then in turn numerous complications during his rehabilitation, Williamson was forced to watch the totality of the campaign from the sidelines. One can imagine it didn’t take long for speculation about his future to begin and then intensify. Questions about a lack of desire were repeatedly put to the former Duke star and all he could do was repeat himself.

Indeed, speaking recently at a camp he hosted at a New Orleans YMCA, Williamson once again addressed the doubts about his willingness to stay with the franchise. “I do want to be here. That’s no secret,” Williamson said of New Orleans. “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.” It must be said that to an extent much of the speculation about his stance comes from the fact that despite not playing during this season at any point, Williamson is in fact up for a massive contract extension. As recently as April he stated that he would be happy to sign said extension if the Pelicans offered one. “Of course. Of course. I wouldn’t be able to sign it fast enough,” Williamson said at the time, before going on to double down on his position. “I can’t control rumors and how people feel about certain things, but anybody that knows me knows I want to be here.”

The Pelicans can offer Zion Williamson a unique opportunity

While much of the talk surrounding the Pelicans this past season was largely focused on the absence of Williamson, it must be said that more should have centered on just how well the team performed without their star. One could even argue that Williamson should be well and truly excited about the prospects in New Orleans. After a season which they started 1-12, the Pelicans simply exploded and to punctuate the point they actually managed to secure the eighth seed in the west. If that wasn’t enough, they pushed the No. 1 seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round of the playoffs and in reality would be justified to feel hard done in their exit.

Then there was the emergence of new talent. Yes of course the likes of CJ MocCollum and Brandon Ingram performed at top tier level, but then there were rookies like Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III and Jose Alvarado who lit up the league with their performances. This is all to say that the future appears to be very bright for the Pelicans and Williamson is most definitely conscious of that fact. “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.”

Zion Williamson may yet push the Pelicans to greatness

If there was one thing that was certain about Zion Williamson prior to his injury, it’s that when healthy he was a force of nature. With an average of 27 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2020-21, New Orleans’ talisman was quite frankly bullying the opposition. Add to that the manner in which the franchise has readily built around him and you get the feeling that an extension is merely a formality to be dealt with. Assuming that’s the case, expect big things from this team in the near future as they are about to see the return of their star which can only mean good things.

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