Asked during his end-of-season media session on Friday about the possibility of signing a rookie scale extension with the Pelicans when he becomes eligible this offseason, forward Zion Williamson expressed enthusiasm, tweets William Guillory of The Athletic.
“Of course,” Williamson said. “I couldn’t sign it fast enough.”
There are a couple caveats worth noting here. For one, it’s not uncommon for a player speaking to reporters to express platitudes about wanting to sign a contract extension with a team and for that deal not to ultimately materialize.
It also seems likely that Williamson is talking about a maximum-salary contract offer, or something close to the max, rather than suggesting he’d accept any offer the Pelicans put in front of him.
No player eligible for a rookie scale extension has ever turned down a maximum-salary offer, but given that Zion missed the entire 2021/22 season due to a foot injury and has appeared in just 85 games since entering the league in 2019, putting a max deal on the table won’t be an automatic decision for the Pelicans.
Still, Williamson’s comment is noteworthy since there has been ongoing speculation about whether or not he’s committed to New Orleans for the long term. This is a promising sign that he’s not looking for an exit ramp.
As we noted earlier today, the Pelicans’ impressive second-half performance and tough playoff battle with the NBA-best Suns will strengthen their case when they enter negotiations with Williamson this summer — adding the former Duke star to the mix would make New Orleans one of the most intriguing teams in the West.
According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link), Williamson said today that he felt like he could’ve returned from his foot injury and played at the end of the season, but the coaching staff and front office ultimately decided that holding him out of action was the right call for the sake of his career longevity.