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Pelicans practice report presented by HUB International: Larry Nance Jr. describes New Orleans as ‘exactly what I want’

Near the end of Saturday’s open practice in the Smoothie King Center, New Orleans’ official Twitter account posted selfie photos of multiple Pelicans players smiling with fans. “Vibes? Through the roof” was the accompanying caption. That kind of joy surrounding the franchise was one reason Larry Nance Jr. reportedly signed a multi-year contract extension Saturday with New Orleans.

Nance’s reported decision to stay long term in the Crescent City added to the Pelicans’ lengthy list of key players who are now under contract through 2024 and beyond.

“It’s great,” Nance said, after being asked about the deal. “Like I’ve said countless times since I’ve been here, the city’s been welcoming, the fans have been great and the organization has been outstanding. This is Year 8 for me (in the NBA). I’ve learned from the places I’ve been exactly what things I don’t want. This is exactly what I do want. So I took the chance to extend my stay.”

Asked about Nance and CJ McCollum’s recent contract extensions, Zion Williamson noted that he’s happy to see New Orleans establish roster continuity, after personnel has been shuffled often since he was drafted in 2019.

“It’s great to see that, because I know my first three years, it was always a different cast of (players),” Williamson said. “To see some vet guys stay around and want to build something special, it means a lot. Last season after the final game, I said I just want to be a part of something special. To see CJ, Larry, some other guys stick around, I’m excited.”

Larry Nance Jr., Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram recap Open Practice | New Orleans Pelicans

Nance has only been in New Orleans since a February trade from Portland, but has quickly acclimated to his new NBA home and constantly praised it. Asked about the timetable for deciding to want to remain in Louisiana, the forward/center said, “It took a little (time), but coming into a new situation, you’ve got to meet the people, learn the city. It wasn’t immediate, because you have to feel it out. But going to the playoff series, getting to feel the energy to play home games here, being around a team that has some positive pressure, that’s what the game is all about. You don’t grow up wanting to play regular season games. The playoffs are what it’s all about. This team has a chance to do that for a long time.”

Other notes from Saturday’s practice:

An enormous crowd attended the team’s annual open session, likely the largest attendance for the event in New Orleans history.

“The energy in the building was really, really fun from the fans,” Brandon Ingram said.

“They bring great energy,” echoed Williamson, who noted that it was enjoyable to be back in the Smoothie King Center for an open practice for the first time since his rookie season of 2019-20. There was no session in 2020 due to Covid, while last year’s event was shifted to Nicholls State due to Hurricane Ida. …

Pelicans second-year head coach Willie Green on the crowd reaction Saturday: “I thought it was cool. Last year, we didn’t have a great start, but toward the end, we were right there, having a good playoff run. This season, I think it’s continuing to build on that momentum with us, but also with the city here and with our fans.”