Two people familiar with the situation said Zion Williamson on Saturday agreed to a five-year, $193 million extension that could be worth as much as $231 million.
The people spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because NBA rules do not allow an extension to become official until July 6.
The deal paves the way for the 6-foot-6, 280-pound striker, who scores high to give an All-Star caliber boost to a team that has recently proven they can make the playoffs without him.
ESPN first reported the agreement, citing information provided by Williamson’s agent, Austin Brown.
The move signals Duke’s 2019 No. 1 overall selection desire to see how much his comeback could help a team that improved dramatically late last season and put on a surprising competitive showing.
It’s also a show of confidence by the injured Pelicans in Williamson, who played a total of 85 games in his first three seasons in the NBA – and missed the entirety of last season with a foot injury.
This spring, New Orleans won two games in the Western Conference before taking the top-seeded Phoenix in six games in the first round of the 2022 qualifiers. They did so with a team led by top-goal winger Brandon Ingram, and veteran goalkeeper C.J. McCollum. , quarterback Jonas Valanciunas and a supporting team of hungry young players who have thrived under first-time NBA coach Willie Green.
One season before, Williamson averaged 27 points on his team and became an All-Star for the first time during his only NBA campaign that was not wiped out mostly or entirely by injuries.
Williamson played in only 24 games as a rookie due to a pre-season right knee injury (meniscus).
He played in 61 out of 72 matches in his second season. But he injured his foot during the 2021 season while performing basketball training with his stepfather, whom he had previously entrusted with off-season training.
The Pelicans did not disclose the injury until the first day of training camp in September, saying they hope to be ready to play in their regular season opener on October 20. . He ended up missing the entire regular season and matches.
Williamson also chose to spend a large portion of the season away from New Orleans and the Pelicans. He chose rehab in Oregon, where his shoe sponsor Nike is based.
During that time, the Pelicans offered few updates to Williamson, as any mention of him subsequently was conspicuously absent from the Pelicans’ promotional materials regarding season ticket renewals for the 2022-23 season.
When the season ended, Williamson said that if New Orleans offered a maximum extension, “he wouldn’t be able to sign him fast enough.”
He was also recently allowed to engage in basketball activities without restrictions.
Without Williamson, the Pelicans started last season 1-12 but rose steadily to the competition on the western supplement berth.
They were starting to get better even before McCollum got off Portland two days before the NBA trade deadline. McCollum helped them achieve a ninth-seeded grab overall and a home match.
The 10th-seeded Pelicans defeated San Antonio. They then won their second playoff game over the Clippers in Los Angeles to advance to the first round of the playoffs against top-seeded Phoenix.
New Orleans won twice in that series before losing in six games.
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