NBA Rumors: Zion Williamson's Max Pelicans Contract Comparable to Joel Embiid's

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 12, 2022

Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

The five-year contract extension signed by New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson features an injury clause with criteria for games played, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.

The contract is comparable to the five-year max extension Joel Embiid signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017.

Under the terms of the designated maximum rookie extension, Williamson's new deal will earn him $193 million, and he could make up to $231 million if he is selected to an All-NBA team. Per Marks, the only way for the forward to not receive the full amount would be if the Pelicans were to waive him.

The 2019 No. 1 overall pick has been worth the lofty contract when on the court. After averaging 22.5 points per game as a rookie, he took his game to another level in 2020-21 with averages of 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 61.1 percent from the field.

The concern for Williamson has been a lack of durability, which caused him to miss the entire 2021-22 season with a foot injury. He has played just 85 total games in three NBA seasons.

Embiid had a similar story to begin his pro career.

The center missed each of his first two NBA seasons with a foot injury and only played 31 games in Year 3. He earned himself a max contract after averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in 2016-17, but Philadelphia protected itself in case the injury issues persisted.

Though Embiid has dealt with other injuries throughout his career, he's played no fewer than 51 games in five straight seasons while earning an All-Star selection each year. He finished second in MVP voting in 2021-22 after leading the NBA in scoring.

New Orleans would likely be happy with a similar outcome while keeping Williamson under team control through at least 2027-28.

If the former Duke star can't shake the injury bug and misses significant time, the Pelicans will have a way out of the contract.


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