Speaking with the media for the first time given that September, the New Orleans Pelicans forward was asked if he ‘d sign the extension he is qualified for this summertime if the group provided one.
” Naturally,” Williamson stated. “I couldn’t sign it fast enough.”
Williamson is qualified to sign a five-year, $181 million max rookie extension this summer season. However after missing out on all of the 2021-22 season with an ideal foot fracture, he has actually played in simply 85 video games in his three-year profession.
Pelicans coach Willie Green stated it was nice to hear Williamson say he wants to stay in New Orleans, but he’s focused on the basketball side of things.
” I love that he wants to be here, that he wants to remain in the fitness center, working towards getting healthy, working towards being the very best gamer he can be,” Green stated. “We love anybody who wants to be here in New Orleans with this community, with this culture. That’s what we want.”
Williamson called this season a “rough year,” as he wasn’t able to be on the court. In January, he began to rehab in Portland far from the group and didn’t return until early March.
As soon as he rejoined the team, Williamson said it assisted to put him in a “fantastic area.”
” Being around the people, being in Shake King [Center], seeing that playoff environment,” Williamson said. “And the locker space– we have a special locker space. My very first 2 years, it was an excellent locker room. But this year– I guess perhaps it was the playoffs– it was more together.
” Being real, it draws watching from the sideline. I simply wish to be out there. Simply seeing the potential. We have a lot of fantastic pieces. I’m thrilled to get out on the court with those people.”
Williamson began playing 5-on-5 with teammates and coaches late in the season and into New Orleans’ playoff run. While he was never ever cleared to play actual games, Williamson stated Friday he felt he might have but that he decided together with the coaching personnel and front office that avoiding would be best for him long term.
Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin stated Williamson is still a couple of weeks far from the next set of imaging that might ultimately clear him for good.
” Which would be when we crossed the bridge of ‘OK, he can do what he wants to do in regards to getting ready for next season with no limitation,'” Griffin stated. “If it’s two-a-days, excellent. If it’s three-a-days, excellent. His workload won’t be monitored at that point, we hope.
” And at the same time, we have actually gotten to a point prior to where we felt great that was coming. So we have to be realistic because circumstance too. So, truly, it’s going to have to do with let’s put him in the best position to prosper physically heading into next season. And I think he’s committed to that based on what he informed you today.”
Due to Williamson’s injury history, the Pelicans could want to put defenses into the deal much like the Philadelphia 76ers performed in October 2017 with center Joel Embiid, who played simply 31 video games in his 3rd season after missing his very first two years because of a foot injury.
When the extension talks do decrease, Griffin added that it will be “a difficulty.”
” When it’s time to have that, we’ll have it,” Griffin stated. “And right now what we’re concentrated on is him being healthy, and sort of elite condition to play basketball, and we’ll begin there. I think when we get to that point, all those discussions get a lot much easier.”
Williamson credited Brandon Ingram and Green with the modification in the locker room. He also raised his relationship with CJ McCollum, one that left to a very public start.
At the All-Star break, during a segment with TNT, McCollum, a week and a half after he was traded to New Orleans, informed the team that he had not spoken with Williamson yet which he was “going to get to the bottom of it.”
When asked about his relationship with McCollum, Williamson looked straight into the video camera.
” Mr. McCollum. That’s simply a little repayment. Mr. ‘I’m going to get to the bottom of it,'” he said with a big smile. “CJ is a fantastic guy. The brief quantity of time I have been around him, I’ve found out so much from him. Fantastic teammate. I’m delighted to get on the court with him.”
McCollum and Williamson’s relationship has grown, with McCollum telling ESPN last month that the two even have actually sat beside each other at team dinners and pick each other’s brains for hours.
” Honestly, I was focused on rehabbing around that time,” Williamson said of not talking to his new colleague right now. “I texted CJ shortly after to ask forgiveness about that. Like I said, I was psychologically not in a great area. Mr. McCollum, he was cool about it. Like I stated, I’m delighted to get on the court again.”
For Williamson, the upcoming season will be the very first in which he’s had the ability to enter into an NBA year with the same head coach after having Alvin Gentry as a rookie and Stan Van Gundy last season.
He had full marks for Green and stated he went up to his coach after the Pelicans’ Game 6 loss removed them from the playoffs Thursday night.
” I said, ‘Coach, whatever you need from me, whether it’s getting the group together, anything I can do, I exist, Coach,'” Williamson said. “We have an unique group. People are currently excited about coming together this offseason.”
Green said that while it was essential for the young gamers on the group to be on the court for the Pelicans’ postseason push, it was likewise essential for Williamson to be around the team while they made it too.
” It’s important for him to see and feel what it resembles,” Green said. “He was seeing the crowds. He saw the atmosphere. To be truthful– I informed him this– the empathy that we have. I understand he wanted to be out there. What he’s going through in regards to recovering from an injury is very tough. I have actually done it.
” When you’re 21 years of ages and your season is thwarted because you were dealing with your video game, it’s tough to go through. A lot of people say stuff. I try not to listen to it. I attempted to have compassion, to have mercy, to have grace. That’s tough to go through. I believed it was excellent for him and all of our men to experience what we wished to experience this season.”