Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson is near a five-year contract that should end speculation that he wants out of New Orleans, The Athletic reported Friday.
Williamson could make up to $231 million on an extension with a fifth-year player option under NBA guidelines. ESPN reported no team injury protections are expected in the deal.
"I do want to be here. That's no secret. I feel like I've stood on that when I spoke," Williamson said recently at a YMCA youth event. "Currently, this does not really have anything to do with that. This is just me wanting to be a pillar in my community."
Williamson, who turns 22 this month, was fully cleared physically by the team on May 26 and has been working out in New Orleans with some of his teammates.
"It was a long year for me on rehab and mental battles," Williamson said. "I'm fine now. I'm ready to get to work."
Since being the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson has played just 85 games (all starts) for the Pelicans. He missed the first three months of the 2019-20 season due to a knee injury.
Williamson was an All-Star in the 2020-21 season, when he averaged 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 61 contests. He has career averages of 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
As for getting an extension, Williamson smiled and said, "You have to ask the Pels, baby."
Williamson is slated to make $13.5 million in base salary next season.
Even with Williamson sidelined, New Orleans advanced through the play-in game to the Western Conference playoffs and took the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round before being eliminated.
--Field Level Media