As a result of the announcement, Williamson will be able to engage in unrestricted offseason workouts this summer as he prepares for the 2022-23 season. After breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during exercises last summer, Williamson missed the entirety of the 2021-22 season. Despite setbacks in his rehab, Williamson had the chance to return at some point this year. If he sustained no complications, there was a possibility for him to return if the Pelicans made it deep into the playoffs. However, they were knocked out in six games against the Phoenix Suns.
The news comes after recent imaging revealed “further improvement” in Williamson’s right foot, according to the Pelicans. Williamson has finished his third NBA season, but due to injuries, he has only played 85 games in those three years. After a damaged meniscus in his right knee delayed his debut, he played 24 games in his rookie season. This summer, Williams is eligible to sign a five-year, $186 million rookie deal with the Saints. When questioned about the deal during the Pelicans’ exit interviews on April 29, Williamson answered, “Yes, of course. I’d be unable to sign it quickly enough.”
Williamson described the 2021-22 season as a “tough year” due to his injuries, which required him to spend time away from the club in Portland to recover. He said he could sense the Pelicans were working on something when he returned in March.
“Being real, it sucks watching from the sideline,” Williamson said. “I just want to be out there. Just seeing the potential. We have a lot of great pieces. I’m excited to get out on the court with those guys.”
In April, Williamson went to 5-on-5 full-court games with the Pelicans staff and end-of-the-bench players, but he never cleared the last obstacle to return to games.