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Report: Pelicans, Zion Williamson agree to max contract extension

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 28: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the game against the Phoenix Suns at Smoothie King Center on April 28, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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UPDATE: In a surprise to nobody, the deal got done: When the Pelicans put a five-year max contract extension on the table, Williamson agreed to it.

Everything from this story from yesterday still applies.


Zion Williamson said he couldn’t sign a contract extension with New Orleans fast enough. Pelicans lead executive David Griffin said Zion Williamson extension talks would be a “challenge

Apparently, about nine hours into the negotiating window is the not-unexpected sweet spot.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Williamson’s extension projects to be worth $231 million only if he triggers the super max next season. Which of the super-max criteria he’d need to hit – MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, All-NBA first, second-or third team – is a matter of negotiation between team and player.

If he doesn’t meet the super-max criteria by earning one of those honors next season, his max projects to be $193 million.

Either way, the exact amount will be determined next year, when the extension kicks in.

That part, as Griffin put it, is easy. Williamson is a max player.

The key question: How much of Williamson’s extension will be guaranteed and under what conditions? He has faced major injury issues early in his career, including missing all of last season. His deal could resemble Joel Embiid’s rookie-scale extension, which wasn’t fully guaranteed if the 76ers star re-injured specific body parts.

Embiid obviously got healthy and became a superstar. The Pelicans will hope for a similar outcome with Williamson. But concerns linger.

This will quiet, though not silence, questions about Williamson’s future in New Orleans. The 21-year-old must still mature as a professional and teammate. His conditioning remains a longstanding concern.

But Williamson has played spectacularly when on the court. That’ll give him a chance to earn a lot of money.