NEW YORK (AFP) – Zion Williamson, who missed the past NBA season due to a broken right foot, has agreed to a five-year maximum rookie contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN reported on Saturday.
Williamson’s deal is worth USD193 million but has escalator clause incentives that could bring the power forward as much as USD231 million.
The extra money would be triggered if Williamson can make the All-NBA Team or win NBA Most Valuable Player or Defensive Player of the Year awards next season.
The top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has struggled with injuries but shown moments of brilliance in his NBA start, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists over 85 contests from 2019-2021.
Williamson suffered a knee injury in his rookie season that delayed his NBA debut until January 2020.
Williamson will turn 22 on Wednesday, which is the first day NBA players can sign contracts for the 2022-23 season. Until then, deals are generally released by agents or in reports with clubs unable to confirm any moves.
As a rookie, Williamson matched Shaquille O’Neal as the only teens in NBA history to average 20 points and shoot 55 per cent from the court.
The Pelicans, boosted by C J McCollum and Brandon Ingram, went 36-46 last season and lost to Phoenix in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the first post-season trip for New Orleans since 2018.
Adding a healthy Williamson to the mix could make the Pelicans yet another contender in a Western Conference fight next season.