Zion wants to stay in New Orleans, says to 'ask the Pels' on max contract

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The New Orleans Pelicans want Zion Williamson to stay with the franchise.

And Williamson says the feeling is mutual.

Speaking on Saturday at a New Orleans YMCA where he held a youth and basketball camp registration, Williamson was asked if opening the camp was a sign he wanted to stay with the Pelicans.

"I do want to be here," Williamson said. "That's no secret. I feel like I've stood on that when I spoke."

Williamson reiterated that he wanted to stay with New Orleans just days after Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said it was essentially a no-brainer that the team will offer him the max of five years and at least $182 million despite the fact he missed the entire 2021-22 season due to a foot injury.

"It's not a big decision. It's a pretty easy decision," Griffin said on a podcast. "This is a max player. That's easy. The kid is historically good when he plays.

"What becomes significant with a team that's a small-market team that can't make mistakes in terms of injuries over time, you have to indemnify yourself in some way."

When asked on Saturday about the extension, Williamson, who recently said he "couldn't sign it fast enough", smiled and said: "You have to ask the Pels, baby."

The Pelicans made the playoffs this past season without Williamson, who should be fit to suit up for the 2022-23 opener after being cleared on May 26 to play this offseason without any restrictions.

"It was a long year for me for rehab and mental battles. I'm fine now. I'm ready to get to work," he said.

Since his 2019-20 rookie season, Williamson has appeared in just 85 games, but he has been outstanding when healthy, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting just over 60 per cent.

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