Pelicans’ Zion Williamson Says ‘People Don’t Understand’ How Much He Loves Basketball

During an interview with NBA reporter William Guillory of The Athletic, New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson said “people don’t understand” how much he loves basketball. 

Zion Williamson, Stephen A. Smith, Pelicans, NBA

Williamson’s commitment to basketball has been questioned by many since he’s missed so many games since getting traded by the Pelicans with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Duke. 

“People don’t understand how much I really love this s—,” Williamson said. “I pour everything into doing my best for the team and for the people who support me in New Orleans. I get it. You can only go off the information that’s in front of you. But that’s the great thing about the opportunity we have the rest of the way. We get to write our own story.”

The Pelicans signed Williamson to a five-year, $197 million extension in July 2022. Williamson is listed at 284 pounds, but most people around the NBA believe the two-time All-Star weighs more than that.

According to NBA reporter Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, the final three years of Williamson’s contract are not guaranteed since Williamson only played in 29 games last season. Williamson also missed the entire 2021-22 season due to a foot injury.

“According to the contract, which was reviewed by The Athletic, the final three years of the deal are no longer guaranteed after Williamson was able to only play in 29 games last season,” Vorkunov wrote. “By missing more than 22 games last season, Williamson triggered a clause that turned the salary he is owed for the 2025-26, 2026-27 and 2027-28 seasons from guaranteed to non-guaranteed.

“That means the Pelicans have the contractual power to waive Williamson after the 2024-25 season with no financial ramifications — though rival team executives believe that would only happen in extreme circumstances. And if Williamson misses significant time this season, it could cut into his guaranteed salary for 2024-25.”

Williamson has appeared in 49 games this season. He’s averaging 22.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 57.6% from the field, 38.5% from 3 and 68.7% from the free-throw line. 

The Pelicans are 35-25. They are in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Williamson has never played in a postseason game. 

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