Though he hasn’t played in more than a year, Zion Williamson insisted this weekend that he still wants to be in New Orleans.
The Pelicans star, who missed all of last season with a lingering foot injury, said Saturday at a YMCA basketball camp that he’s trying to cement himself within the New Orleans community ahead of his return to the court.
“I do want to be here. That’s no secret,” Williamson said, via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “I feel like I’ve stood on that when I spoke.
“Currently, this [event] does not really have anything to do with that. This is just me wanting to be a pillar in my community.”
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) June 11, 2022
Williamson first fractured his foot last August, and underwent surgery before the season started. He was widely expected to be ready to go for the regular season, but he dealt with several setbacks along the way. Finally, he was cleared to resume basketball activities in March.
Williamson didn’t return at all, however, and wasn’t “cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions” until a few weeks after the Pelicans were eliminated from the playoffs.
This, of course, happened amid reported speculation and rumors about Williamson’s relationship with the Pelicans organization getting worse and worse.
Though next season is still several months away, Williamson insists that is all behind him.
“It was a long year for me for rehab and mental battles,” he said Saturday, via ESPN. “I’m fine now. I’m ready to get to work.”
Williamson, who the Pelicans took with the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, averaged 27 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in the 2020-21 season. He is eligible for a max five-year, $186 million rookie extension this offseason too.
“You have to ask the Pels, baby,” Williamson said of his contract, via ESPN.