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Zion Williamson, Pelicans Agree to 5-Year Supermax Contract Worth Up to $231M

Erin WalshJuly 2, 2022

Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans and Zion Williamson have agreed to terms on a rookie supermax extension.

Williamson's agent, Austin Brown, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Saturday that the two sides agreed to a five-year deal worth a guaranteed $193 million that could escalate to $231 million.

The news comes after The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania reported Friday that the two sides were nearing an agreement.

The deal hardly comes as a surprise, as the Pelicans made Williamson the face of the franchise by selecting him first overall in the 2019 NBA draft. However, there had been some uncertainty about his status with the organization as he rehabbed from a foot injury.

In September 2021, Christian Clark of NOLA.com reported there was tension between Williamson and the Pelicans over how the team handled his recovery from a torn meniscus during his rookie season. He added that Williamson's relationship with executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin even began to "sour."

However, Williamson reiterated his commitment to the Pelicans in June.

"I do want to be here. That's no secret. I feel like I've stood on that when I spoke," Williamson said during registration for his youth basketball camp at a local YMCA in New Orleans, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez. "Currently, this does not really have anything to do with that. This is just me wanting to be a pillar in my community."

Just days before Williamson's comments, Griffin told reporters that the power forward undoubtedly deserved a max contract despite his injury history.

"The kid's historically good when he plays ... this is a max player, that's easy," Griffin said on The Ryen Russillo Podcast (h/t ESPN.com).

While he only appeared in 24 games during his rookie season, Williamson impressed, averaging 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 58.3 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from deep en route to an All-Rookie team selection.

The 21-year-old appeared in 61 games during the 2020-21 campaign and was even better, averaging 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 61.1 percent from the floor. His performance earned him his first All-Star selection.

However, he went on to miss the entire 2021-22 season while rehabbing his surgically repaired right foot, and the Pelicans finished ninth in the Western Conference with a 36-46 record before suffering a first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns.

When healthy, Williamson is one of the best forwards in the NBA, and his return alongside CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram should at least allow New Orleans to compete for a playoff spot again in 2022-23.

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