NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Zion Williamson’s lost season due to injury and unusual absence from the New Orleans Pelicans during his recovery did not prevent the team from placing a significant wager on their long-term future.
The star forward agreed to a five-year, $193 million contract extension with New Orleans on Saturday that has a maximum value of $231 million, according to Williamson’s agent, Austin Brown.
Classified as a maximum rookie extension under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the contract enables the 6-foot-6, 280-pound, high-scoring power forward to provide an All-Star-caliber boost to a team that recently demonstrated it could make the playoffs without him.
ESPN was the first to report the agreement, citing information provided by Brown, co-director of the basketball division at CAA Sports. The Pelicans have not yet announced the extension, which cannot be signed until July 6 per NBA regulations.
The move indicates that the 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick out of Duke wants to see how much his return could help a team that improved dramatically down the stretch of the previous season and made a surprising playoff run.
It is also a vote of confidence by the Pelicans in the injury-prone Williamson, who has played a total of 85 games in his first three NBA seasons — and missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a foot injury.