Pelicans' Zion Williamson Deserves Max Contract, GM David Griffin Says: 'That's Easy'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 9, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 28: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans smiles before Round 1 Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2022 at the Smoothie King Center 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin believes it's clear that Zion Williamson deserves a max contract.

Griffin discussed Williamson's potential contract extension on Thursday's episode of The Ryen Russillo Podcast:

Christian Clark @cclark_13

Griff was asked about Zion’s extension on Ryen Russillo’s podcast: “This is a max player. That’s easy.”<br><br>Added that as a small market team, New Orleans has to “indemnify yourself in some way.” <a href="https://t.co/pYOsp7XsDZ">pic.twitter.com/pYOsp7XsDZ</a>

"It's not a big decision, it's a pretty easy decision," Griffin said about offering a max contract. "The kid's historically good when he plays."

There are question marks about Williamson's injury history, playing just 85 games through three seasons in the NBA. He missed all of 2021-22 due to a foot injury.

It's still not enough for Griffin and the Pelicans to reduce the forward's contract offer.

"This is a max player," Griffin added. "That's easy."

The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick impressed as a rookie with averages of 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but he truly broke out during his second season. He averaged 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 61 appearances while shooting 61.1 percent from the field in 2020-21, earning his first All-Star selection.

Some have speculated Williamson wants to leave New Orleans, but it's clear the team wants to keep him at any cost.

"We're all the way in with him and I think we always have been," Griffin added.

This counters a previous report from ESPN's Brian Windhorst, who said the Pelicans "are not willing to offer a full five-year guaranteed deal" because of his injury history.

The good news is Williamson is on track to return in 2022-23 after being cleared to play without any restrictions.