New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has agreed to a five-year, $193 million rookie designated maximum extension that could earn him up to $231 million, CAA Sports co-head of basketball Austin Brown told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Saturday.
If Williamson makes the All-NBA team, wins MVP or Defensive Player of the Year next season, it would trigger supermax escalation clauses that could increase the total value of the deal from $193 million to $231 million.
Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, has proven to be a generational talent since he stepped foot on an NBA floor.
During his rookie season, he averaged 22.4 points and shot 58.3% overall. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Williamson is the second rookie in NBA history to average 20 points while shooting at least 55% from the field, joining Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93).
He was also the first teenager to score 20 points in 10 straight games, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, doing so in his 15th career game.
During the 2020-21 season, he averaged 27 points and 7.2 rebounds on 61.1% shooting from the field. His 27.0 points per game was the most of any player in NBA history for someone who shot more than 60% from the field in an NBA season.
Williamson was named an All-Star during his sophomore season and was also a late pick to start the game. He became the fourth youngest All-Star starter, joining Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Magic Johnson.
During his final 20 games of the season, Williamson’s scoring increased to 29.6 points per game as he scored at least 30 points in 11 of those contests. Williamson went on a streak of 25 consecutive games scoring 20 or more points while shooting 50% or more from the field, joining O’Neal in 2001 as the only players to do so in NBA history.
By the end of the year, Williamson became the 12th player in NBA history to score at least 2,000 points in his first 80 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He became the second player to do so in the last 40 seasons and the first to do so since Michael Jordan.
Williamson also saw his assist average jump from 2.1 to 3.7 as he took on more ball-handling duties as the Pelicans unleashed “Point Zion” under former coach Stan Van Gundy. It remains to be seen if he resumes those duties under Willie Green.
Green led the Pelicans to the Western Conference play-in tournament last season. They won at home against the San Antonio Spurs and on the road against the LA Clippers to reach the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. The Pelicans snatched two games from the top-seeded Phoenix Suns before dropping in six.
New Orleans started 3-16 last season but finished 36-46 to return to the playoff hunt. The Pelicans traded for CJ McCollum before the NBA trade deadline last season, helping propel the team into its late-season run.
Williamson, who turns 22 on Wednesday, has played just 85 games in his first three NBA seasons, including 24 during his 2019-20 rookie season. A torn meniscus in his right knee delayed his debut. He missed the entire 2021-22 campaign with a broken right foot.
In May, the Pelicans officially cleared Williamson to return from the foot injury that sidelined him, and he has returned to on-court work with no restrictions. With McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a healthy Williamson, the Pelicans look to take a step up in the Western Conference next season.
On April 29, when Williamson made his first public comments since breaking his foot, he was asked about the possible extension and whether he would extend with New Orleans. He replied, “Of course, I couldn’t sign it fast enough.”
Last month, at a local YMCA event, Williamson reiterated his desire to be in New Orleans, saying, “I want to be here. That’s no secret. I feel like I’ve leaned into that when I’ve spoken.”