New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has agreed to a five-year, $193 million maximum rookie extension that could net him up to $231 million, said CAA Sports co-head of basketball Austin Brown , on Saturday to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
If Williamson makes the All-NBA team, becomes MVP or Defensive Player of the Year next season, it would trigger supermax escalator clauses that could increase the total value of the deal from $193 million to $231 million.
Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, has proven to be a generational talent since stepping onto an NBA floor.
During his rookie season, he averaged 22.4 points and shot 58.3% overall. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Williamson is the second rookie in NBA history, after Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93), to average 20 points while shooting at least 55% from the field.
He also became the first teenager to score 20 points in 10 straight games, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research, and he achieved that in his 15th career game.
In the 2020-21 season, he averaged 27 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 61.1% from the field. His 27.0 points per game was the most of any player in NBA history for someone who shot over 60% from the field in an NBA season.
Williamson was named an All-Star in his sophomore season and was also a late pick to start the game. He became the fourth youngest All-Star starter, joining Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Magic Johnson.
In his final 20 games of the season, Williamson’s scoring rose to 29.6 points per game as he scored at least 30 points in 11 of those competitions. Williamson had 25 consecutive games in which he scored 20 or more points while shooting 50% or more from the field, joining O’Neal in 2001 as the only player to do so in NBA history.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, late in the year Williamson became the 12th player in NBA history to score at least 2,000 points in his first 80 games. He was only the second player in the last 40 seasons and the first since Michael Jordan.
Williamson also saw his average assists soar from 2.1 to 3.7 as he took on more ball-handling duties as the Pelicans unleashed “Point Zion” under former coach Stan Van Gundy. Whether he will resume those duties under Willie Green remains to be seen.
Green led the Pelicans to the Western Conference play-in tournament last season. They beat the San Antonio Spurs at home and the LA Clippers away to reach the playoffs as No. 8. The Pelicans took two games from the top-seeded Phoenix Suns before falling in six.
New Orleans started 3-16 last season but finished 36-46 to get back in the playoff hunt. The Pelicans traded for CJ McCollum before the NBA trade deadline last season, which helped the team jump-start its late-season run.
Williamson, who turns 22 on Wednesday, has only played 85 games in his first three NBA seasons, including 24 in his 2019-20 rookie season. A torn meniscus in his right knee delayed his debut. He missed the entire 2021-22 season with a broken right foot.
In May, the Pelicans officially cleared Williamson to return from the foot injury that kept him sidelined and he has returned to work on the pitch without restrictions. With McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a healthy Williamson, the Pelicans are looking to make a push into the Western Conference next season.
On April 29, when Williamson made his first public statements since breaking his foot, he was asked about the potential renewal and if he would renew with New Orleans. He replied, “Of course I couldn’t sign it fast enough.”
Last month at a local YMCA event, Williamson reiterated his desire to be in New Orleans, saying, “I want to be here. That’s no secret. I feel like I was standing on it when I spoke.”