The former New Orleans Saint has agreed to a contract deal worth up to $231 million
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, a five-year, $193 million extension between the New Orleans Pelicans and their big man Zion Williamson is about to be finalized.
Williamson was an All-Star in 2020-21, averaging 27.0 points per game. 7.2 points per game, 3.7 assists per game, and 61.1 percent overall shootingAccording to Charania, the agreement will include protections that Williamson and the Pelicans were working out.
This offseason, the Pelicans faced a $200 million (give or take) decision: to offer the former No. 1 overall pick a lucrative extension that would begin with the 2023-24 season or take a chance and see if he can get in shape enough to contribute to a team that believes it has a promising future.
“When it’s time to have that (conversation), we’ll have it,” David Griffin, the Pelicans’ vice president of basketball operations, stated in late April.
“Right now, what we’re focused on is him being healthy, and kind of in elite condition to play basketball, and we’ll start there. I think once we get to that point, all those conversations get a lot easier.”
When asked if he would sign an extension, Williamson replied, “I wouldn’t be able to sign it fast enough.”
It’s a big decision for the Pelicans, who want to add a player with Williamson’s talent to a team that took the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the playoffs.
To be sure, there is a lot of excitement in New Orleans about the finish and the future.
“Words cannot describe how excited I am,” When the Pelicans held their end-of-season meetings before dispersing for the summer, Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “I’m ready to get right back to work.”
The question is when Williamson will be able to start working.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft and an All-Star last season said that he could have played down the stretch for the Pelicans this season, but he and the organization disagreed, “deciding longevity was better than trying to rush back.”
Williamson was talking to reporters for the first time since last September’s media day. During his silence, people wondered if he was unhappy in New Orleans.
Williamson admitted to being in “a mentally bad space” at times during the season as a result of his slow-healing injury.
He didn’t initially contact CJ McCollum, whom the Pelicans acquired in a February trade with Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell.
Williamson said he apologized for not reaching out sooner to McCollum, a 10-year veteran whose arrival fueled New Orleans’ late-season surge.
“CJ was cool about it,” Williamson said. “He’s a great dude. I’ve learned so much from him in the short time I’ve been around him. Excellent teammate. I’m looking forward to playing with him. I’m in a great place right now.”
“We have a lot of great pieces. We have a special group. When I got around the fellas, it was always good vibes with them.”
Green was expected to build his team around Williamson and forward Brandon Ingram, who had a breakout series in his first playoff win this season. Williamson, on the other hand, was never available.
Green said, “I love that he wants to be here, that he wants to be in the gym, working toward getting healthy, working toward being the best player he can be.”
Green feels that the experience of playing “important games” at the conclusion of the season will assist three rookies who played big roles this season: Trey Murphy III, Herbert Jones Jr. and Jose Alvarado.
Green says, “My message to our team is that there will be expectations. We won’t sneak up on people, but that’s good. That’s what lets you know you’re a good team, and that’s what we’re striving to become.”