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Zion Williamson Rumors: Pelicans Max Contract Includes Injury Protections

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 5, 2022

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans agreed with Zion Williamson on a five-year, $193 million designated maximum rookie extension that could be worth up to $231 million.

However, the contract has injury protections in place, Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.

"Sources tell me there are protections in Zion Williamson's max extension, but this is a deal he wanted to get done," Charania said (h/t RealGM).

"As long as he's healthy and plays in these games, he's going to have no problems meeting these benchmarks."

Williamson missed all of last season with a fractured foot. He was also held to 24 games during his rookie year in 2019-20 after suffering a torn meniscus.

The ex-Duke star shined in the 2020-21 season, though, making his first All-Star Game en route to averaging 27.0 points per game on 61.1 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds.

Charania added that Williamson will get the max value of his deal if he makes an All-NBA team, which seems like a formality if he's able to stay healthy based off his sophomore year production.

Williamson rejoins a Pelicans team that pushed the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round.

With him back in the mix, the Pelicans should firmly be in the playoff hunt and potentially put themselves in position to contend for a Western Conference crown. Williamson, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram form a talented trio of scorers, and a host of young, scrappy players such as Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado and Trey Murphy III round out a deep rotation.

The question is whether Williamson can play most of the season after he missed all of last year and most of his rookie campaign. There's good news on that front, as Charania reported that "all signs show right now that he will be on the floor next season."

That would seemingly be in line with the Pels' last official update on Williamson, which occurred May 26:

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

Update on Zion: <br><br>Recent imaging of Williamson’s right fifth metatarsal showed continued improvement. <br><br>Williamson has been cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions. <a href="https://t.co/xZAtf9lyVn">pic.twitter.com/xZAtf9lyVn</a>

Ultimately, there are a lot of reasons to feel good about New Orleans' basketball future, and Williamson being back tops that list.

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