Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans agreed to a five-year designated maximum rookie extension last night. The former top pick at the draft will earn $193 million for sure, but the entire contract could go up to $231 million.
The Pelicans didn’t want to wait but decided to be quick and offer Zion a new deal despite him being out for more than a year, and having constant injury trouble. With this move, the Pels are showing strong dedication to project Zion and are reassuring the youngster that he will be the focal point of the Pelicans’ plans for the future.
New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has agreed on a five-year, $193 million designated maximum rookie extension that could earn him as much as $231 million, CAA Sports’ Co-Head of Basketball Austin Brown tells ESPN. pic.twitter.com/z4lnVLD1GM
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2022
Zion set numerous records in efficiency and field goal percentage, but even though he did that, the frequent injuries have cast a shadow on his excellent performances. During the first three years of his NBA career, Williamson played only 85 games. In his rookie season, Zion appeared in 24 games, while in the second, he played 61.
His averages are impressive, though. He would spend 31.7 minutes on the court, dropping 25.7 points and seven boards, showing 60.4% from the field.
The main thing with Zion is his extreme efficiency, as he often has unreal shooting percentages and is over 75%. Williamson holds the record for the most consecutive 20+ points games with more than 50% FG. He also became the youngest player ever to score 30 points with 80% of shooting.
Zion has been out since the end of the 2020/21 campaign. During the offseason, Williamson suffered a foot fracture and had to undergo surgery. There were some rumors that he might be ready for the 2022 season, but in the end, he missed all 82 games, plus the playoffs. Constant delays of his return frustrated the Pels fanbase, and some began doubting Zion and his future.
The youngster added significant weight and looked oversized in training sessions. For many, that was the reason why his rehabilitation lasted longer than the initial prognosis claimed. Rumors suggesting that Williamson’s discipline is low or even absent appeared during the previous season, and many facts support those speculations.
Players averaging 25+ points on 60% shooting:
— Zion Williamson
The only player EVER. pic.twitter.com/Y32sWQ6h3E
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 2, 2022
Because of that, we now have debates about whether this was a smart move for the Pels or not. Zion has one hell of a playing potential, but the injury and weight problems at this early stage of his career are placing a huge question mark on the player’s future.
New Orleans put together quite the solid team, especially following a trade that saw CJ McCollum landing in Louisiana. He and Brandon Ingram formed a very potent duo, and along with the already present core, the Pels looked excellent in the second part of the campaign. They reached the playoffs, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs and the LA Clippers in the play-in tournament before losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round,4-2.
With all this in mind, some voices suggested Zion’s trade and a chase for some other superstar that would complement McCollum and Ingram and avoid all the potential issues in the future.
The time will tell whether they were right. We just wait and see.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.