Zion Williamson is set to agree a five-year, $231million rookie max extension with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The imminent deal was reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania on Friday, the second day of NBA free agency.

A number of leading stars were given new deals on Thursday – including Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker and Ja Morant – and Williamson should now join them.

The Pelicans are building an exciting young team, making the playoffs in 2021-22 and taking the number one seed Phoenix Suns to six games despite Williamson's injury absence.

New Orleans could be forgiven for having some concerns about committing such a huge sum to Williamson, though.

The former first overall pick has played only 85 games in three seasons in the NBA – albeit he has averaged 25.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Williamson has spoken of his desire to commit to the Pelicans, but Charania added this deal was expected to include "protections".

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.

Despite missing all of last season due to injury, Zion Williamson remains very much in the long-term plans of the New Orleans Pelicans, according to executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin. 

Appearing on a podcast, Griffin expressed confidence in signing Williamson to a maximum-salary extension this offseason and said it’s an "easy decision". 

Williamson said in his postseason press conference that he’s eager to sign long-term with the Pelicans after the team made a late run to the playoffs. Griffin said it’s essentially a no-brainer that he will get a max offer of five years and at least $182 million. 

"We feel really confident he wants to be here, and we’re equally confident we can come to an agreement," Griffin said. 

Because Williamson missed the entire 2021-22 season due to a foot injury and has played in just 85 games since entering the league in 2019, the Pelicans could seek protections within the deal. 

"It’s not a big decision. It’s a pretty easy decision," Griffin said. "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." 

Williamson was recently cleared to play this offseason without any restrictions after recent imaging on the fifth metatarsal in his right foot showed continued improvement. 

Barring any setbacks, he should be ready to return next season and take the court for the first time since May 2021.  

Williamson has been an extremely effective player when healthy, averaging 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting just over 60 percent from the field for his career.  

Offseason work pic.twitter.com/scnFaHUil3

— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) June 7, 2022

Zion Williamson has been cleared to return to play without any restrictions.

The New Orleans Pelicans star did not play a single game this season due to a foot fracture as his team reached the playoffs through the play-in tournament, before losing 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns in the first round.

Williamson has been troubled by fitness issues throughout his NBA career, and the former first overall pick returned to full team activities in late November, only to suffer further setbacks.

However, the Pelicans confirmed on Thursday that the 21-year-old is finally able to return without restrictions, saying via a statement: "The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that recent imaging of Zion Williamson's right fifth metatarsal showed continued improvement.

"Williamson has been cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions."

In the 2020-21 season, Williamson averaged 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds from 61 games, and scored more than 20 in each of his last 15 games before getting injured just over a year ago.

Williamson is eligible for a five-year, $181million max rookie extension ahead of the 2022-23 season, and he will not think twice if that offer comes from the Pelicans, recently saying: "Of course, I couldn't sign it fast enough."

Zion Williamson says he is committed to the New Orleans Pelicans, who were rejuvenated in the 2021-22 season he spent on the sideline.

Former first overall pick Williamson did not play a single game this season as the Pelicans reached the playoffs through the play-in tournament and then took the Phoenix Suns to six games.

The optimism around the team would increase further with the forward's return next year after playing just 85 games through three years.

When he has been on the court, Williamson has averaged 25.7 points on 60.4 per cent shooting, scoring 20 or more points in each of his 15 most recent outings – all of which came way back in 2020-21.

The former Duke sensation's dedication to the Pelicans has been questioned at times, but he appeared enthused discussing the future on Friday following their playoff elimination.

"It sucks watching from the sideline, because I just want to be out there," Williamson said. "But you're seeing the potential. We've got a lot of great pieces.

"The locker room [had] a different feel this year. A lot of that goes to BI's [Brandon Ingram's] leadership, the young guys buying in to coach [Willie] Green so fast.

"You saw it on the court. Man, we have a special group, I truly believe that."

Williamson is eligible for a five-year, $181million max rookie extension ahead of the 2022-23 season, and he is not planning to think twice if that offer comes from the Pelicans.

"Of course, I couldn't sign it fast enough," he said.

Zion Williamson's failure to welcome CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans added to a "pattern of behaviour" that shows the former first overall pick to be "a detached team-mate".

That is the view of JJ Redick, a former Pelicans team-mate.

Injuries have limited Williamson to just 85 games in the NBA since he was drafted in 2019, meaning the discussion around the forward has instead centred on his commitment to the Pelicans.

The team have made moves to try to build a competitive team in the absence of a potential superstar, who averages 25.7 points for his career.

But McCollum, the latest recruit from the Portland Trail Blazers, said at the weekend he was yet to speak with Williamson directly.

And Redick, speaking on Tuesday, was able to offer an insight into life alongside the 21-year-old, whose status remains unclear as he waits to play his first game this season following a foot injury.

"This just shows a complete lack of investment in your team, in the organisation, in the city," Redick told First Take.

"I get that he's hurt and away from the team, but you just traded for one of the 50 best players in the league – a guy that's supposed to be paired with you. Reach out and say, 'hello'.

"This is a pattern of behaviour with Zion that we are seeing again and again. I was his team-mate; I can describe him as a detached team-mate – that is an accurate statement."

Redick, who joined the Pelicans at the same time as Williamson and left in March 2021, said: "Yes, he's been amazing when he's been on the court – 100 per cent.

"He's amazing to watch. There's no one that can do what he does on a basketball court.

"But as a team-mate, there is a pattern of behaviour; as a fully invested individual in New Orleans, there's a pattern of behaviour. This is worrisome."

Zion Williamson is no nearer to a return to NBA action after the New Orleans Pelicans confirmed he would require at least four to six weeks before his foot injury was assessed again.

Williamson has been dogged by fitness issues throughout his NBA career and is yet to feature in 2021-22 due to a foot fracture.

The former first overall pick returned to full team activities in late November, only to suffer further setbacks.

Williamson's training programme was reduced last week and now, in an update on Thursday, the Pelicans have detailed the anticipated minimum length of his lay-off.

"Following a consultation and further evaluation with Dr. Richard Ferkel of the Southern California Orthopedic Institute yesterday, Zion Williamson received a biologic injection into the fracture site to stimulate bone healing in his right foot," the team said.

"Williamson will be limited to low impact, partial weight-bearing activities for an extended period.

"Further updates will be given following further imaging which is anticipated to occur in 4-6 weeks."

The Pelicans, who are a miserable 9-21, could therefore play as many as 18 more games before Williamson is even considered again.

Although New Orleans are 40-45 with Williamson over the past three seasons – compared to 30-59 without him – they are 3.5 games back on the play-in round in the West and look a long shot to recover any sort of playoff push from this campaign.

The New Orleans Pelicans have been forced to reduce Zion Williamson's training programme after scans identified the source of his foot soreness.

Former first overall pick Williamson is yet to feature in 2021-22 after undergoing surgery on a right foot fracture in the offseason.

The ex-Duke sensation had been cleared to participate in full team activities late last month, only to soon take a step back due to soreness.

That setback delayed Williamson's return, and Pelicans fans now face an even longer wait to see their star player in action following another injury update.

"After experiencing persistent soreness in his right foot, Zion Williamson underwent medical imaging which showed a regression in the bone healing of his fifth metatarsal," a team statement read on Saturday.

"As a result, the volume and intensity of his training will be reduced for an extended period to help allow for further bone healing. Additional updates will be provided as warranted."

Williamson has been restricted to just 85 games through his first three seasons in the NBA. Among players in the 2019 draft class, he ranks joint-29th in that regard and 17th for minutes (2,694).

However, only Ja Morant (2,855) and RJ Barrett (2,445) have scored more points in the regular season than Williamson (2,187), whose average (25.7 points per game) is by far the best in his class (Morant 19.2, Barrett 16.0).

Although the Pelicans have a miserable 69-103 record since the start of 2019-20, they have been a competitive 40-45 with Williamson in the team.

Zion Williamson's long-awaited New Orleans Pelicans return has been delayed due to foot soreness, the NBA franchise announced on Thursday.

Williamson is yet to feature for the Pelicans (6-18) in 2021-22 after undergoing surgery on a right foot fracture in the offseason.

The 2019 number one draft pick had been cleared to participate in full team activities, though he was held out from Thursday's session due to soreness.

"It's a part of the process," Pelicans head coach Willie Green said. "When you're dealing with injuries and you ramp up some, there's a possibility you can deal with a little bit of soreness which he's dealing with now.

Williamson is in his third year as a professional, however the 21-year-old has so far seen his hugely promising career hindered by injury.

The power forward did not make his NBA debut until January in the 2019-20 campaign after tearing his meniscus in his rookie preseason, while relatively minor issues limited Williamson to 61 games in 2020-21.

"We're very optimistic in that sense," Green added. "Hopefully the soreness goes away in a few days and he can get back to work."

"It's more important to be patient," Green said. "We're talking about somebody's career. Anytime you're dealing with that aspect of professional sports, that is important to remember.

"That's how we're looking at this. It's being diligent about getting him back on the floor. And that's a part of what we're dealing with right now."

Despite concerns about the forward's durability, Williamson has excelled against NBA opposition.

After 22.5 points per game in his rookie year, he improved to 27.0 last season and will return on a streak of scoring 20 in 15 straight games.

"I think that's the biggest part of us wanting to dial back and re-evaluate where we are," Green said. "We don't want to put our guys on the floor and put their careers at stake or in jeopardy. All of our guys are too important to do something like that."

Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the New Orleans Pelicans announced on Friday.

Pelicans star Williamson is yet to feature in the NBA this season due to a right foot fracture, which required surgery in the offseason.

But the 2019 number one draft pick played four-on-four full court on Friday as the 2021 All-Star stepped up his comeback, though there is still no return timeline.

Williamson is entering his third year as a professional, however the 21-year-old has so far seen his hugely promising career hindered by injury.

The power forward did not make his NBA debut until January in the 2019-20 campaign after tearing his meniscus in his rookie preseason, while relatively minor issues limited Williamson to 61 games in 2020-21.

Despite concerns about the forward's durability, Williamson has excelled against NBA opposition.

After 22.5 points per game in his rookie year, he improved to 27.0 last season and will return on a streak of scoring 20 in 15 straight games.

Without Williamson this season, the struggling Pelicans have started the campaign 4-16 – the second worst record in the NBA behind the Houston Rockets (2-16).

Zion Williamson moved a step closer to returning to NBA action on Tuesday as he was cleared for contact by the New Orleans Pelicans.

Williamson is entering his third year as a professional but has so far seen his hugely promising career hindered by injury.

The former first overall draft pick did not make his NBA debut until January in the 2019-20 campaign after tearing his meniscus in his rookie preseason.

Relatively minor issues limited Williamson to 61 games last season, but he has not yet featured in 2021-22 due to a right foot fracture, for which he had surgery in the offseason.

Despite understandable concerns about the forward's durability, Williamson has excelled against NBA opposition.

After 22.5 points per game in his rookie year, he improved to 27.0 last season and will return on a streak of scoring 20 in 15 straight games. Before Tuesday's games, that was tied with Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant for the longest such active streak in the league.

When that return will be remains uncertain, but the Pelicans brought positive news in their latest release.

"The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that forward Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in contact drills, beginning with one-on-one workouts and progressively working towards full team workouts," the team said.

"Williamson, who underwent imaging on his fractured right foot on Thursday [Nov. 11], was medically cleared by Dr. Richard Ferkel of Southern California Orthopedic Institute and Dr. Scott Montgomery of Ochsner Health.

"Williamson will undergo further medical imaging on November 24, which will determine his availability for full team workouts.

"Additional updates will be provided on his anticipated return to play timetable accordingly."

New Orleans are a miserable 2-13 in Williamson's absence this year. Only once (1-14 in 2004-05) in franchise history have they had a worse record through 15 games.

Since the 2019 NBA Draft, the Pelicans are now 40-45 (47.1) with Williamson and 23-51 (31.1) without him.

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will miss at least two to three more weeks as he continues to recover from a right foot injury. 

Williamson had surgery during the offseason to repair a broken foot and has missed the start of the regular season for the second time in his three NBA campaigns. 

The Pelicans are 1-6 so far without him but head coach Willie Green told reporters on Monday his star is making progress. 

"He's cutting. He's doing explosive work. He's running. He's getting closer and closer," Green said.

"It's just one of those injuries where we want to be really diligent, especially with the foot, of being careful when we put him back on the floor at full go."

Williamson has not yet been cleared for contact, so he has not been able to participate in five-on-five drills during practice. 

He will accompany the team on their four-game road trip that begins in Phoenix on Tuesday against the Suns, with his next set of scans scheduled for two to three weeks from now. 

"We’ll know more after that," Green said. "But he’s progressing. It’s a good sign for us. We want to continue to keep him going in that direction."

Williamson averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game across 61 appearances last season for the Pelicans.

 

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will miss the start of the NBA regular season due to a right foot injury.

Pelicans vice-president of basketball operations David Griffin confirmed Williamson's absence after the former number one draft pick underwent scans earlier this week following offseason foot surgery.

Griffin was unable to provide a "fixed timeline" on Williamson's return to play, although he said the 2021 All-Star would undergo further scans in roughly a fortnight's time.

"It's everyone's goal that Zion return to play as soon as safely possible," Griffin said on Thursday.

"Obviously, two to two-and-a-half weeks from now means he will not be on the floor for the first week of games. When he is able to return safely, we will do that."

The Pelicans are due to start their NBA season against championship-hopefuls the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

Williamson, who had said last month he hoped to play in the Pelicans' opening game, has been cleared to start running and do individual on-court work.

Griffin clarified Williamson had not suffered a setback and no timeline had been set on the 21-year-old joining in more training activities.

"It just takes a certain amount of time for guys to lay the bone that the doctors want to see," Griffin said. "This is where our timeline is.

"Throughout the process, we'll be heading toward that [joining team training]. It may be well before the two-and-a-half weeks that he does that. It's really just a function of how things progress."

Williamson averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game across 61 appearances in the 2020-21 NBA season for the Pelicans.

The top pick in the 2019 draft, Williamson had only managed 24 games in his debut season, averaging 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 2019-20.

Zion Williamson required surgery to repair a fractured right foot in the offseason, though the New Orleans Pelicans are still hopeful he will be fit for the start of the new campaign.

Williamson was hurt while working out ahead of his third year in the league, having made a huge impact for the Pelicans since he was selected with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The power forward averaged 27.0 points per game, up from 22.5 points in his rookie year, as well as 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the 2020-21 regular season.

Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin announced Williamson's situation on Monday, making it clear New Orleans are "very optimistic" over the 21-year-old's recovery.

"Zion is returning from a foot surgery suffered at the beginning of the summer, earlier in the offseason prior to NBA Summer League," Griffin said.

"He had a fractured right foot, which was repaired surgically. His timeline should get him back on court in time for the regular season, that would be our hope and view. 

"We're very optimistic about what that looks like. Unfortunately, that's going to be taken as a big negative by all of you (the media), but it isn't for us, because we were dealing with it for the whole offseason. 

"We feel very confident about where things are and very happy with the improvements there."

Williamson's rookie season was a shortened one due to a torn meniscus, delaying his debut. He played in only 24 games, yet quickly demonstrated just why he was so highly rated coming out of Duke.

He became an All-Star for the first time in his second year but a finger injury cut short his involvement with the Pelicans, who missed out on the playoffs once more.

New Orleans open the new season with a home game against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 20 - and their superstar expects to be on the court for that contest.

"It's part of the game," Williamson said of his injury when he spoke at the team's official media day.

"I think I was overdoing it when I was training because I felt like I had this huge chip on my shoulder, this huge boulder, so I was getting after it every day and it just happened. 

"The process through healing has been great, working with the trainer every day. I expect to be back for the first official game."

Zion Williamson has been ruled out indefinitely with a fractured finger, further denting the New Orleans Pelicans' slim playoff hopes.

The 2019 first overall draft pick was limited to just 24 games in his debut season with a meniscus tear but has been outstanding this year.

Williamson's 27.0 points per game on 61.1 per cent shooting from the field – the best mark of any player averaging 15 points or more – have kept the Pelicans in the postseason mix.

New Orleans are 11th in the Western Conference but sit just 1.5 games behind the slumping San Antonio Spurs, who occupy the final play-in place in 10th.

However, they now look set to be without their talisman for the final six games of the season.

A Pelicans statement on Friday read: "The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that forward Zion Williamson underwent a series of diagnostic testing at Ochsner Health yesterday prior to the team's departure to Philadelphia.

"A CT scan revealed a fractured left ring finger. He will be sidelined indefinitely.

"A treatment plan and timetable for his return to play will be determined upon further evaluation."

Brandon Ingram, the team's second star scoring 23.8 points, had already been ruled out of Friday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers with a low ankle sprain.

The forward was injured in New Orleans' win over the Golden State Warriors in which Lonzo Ball led the team with 33 points.

However, that was a career high and Ball is averaging a more modest 14.6 for the year.

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