Pelicans, Zion Williamson on the verge of a five-year extension

That pelicans are nearing an agreement on a five-year rookie extension for Forward Zion Williamsonreports Shams Charania from The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania, it will be a maximum salary deal that could be worth up to $231 million. That suggests it will include Rose Rule language, allowing Williamson to qualify for a starting salary of 30% of the 2023-24 cap instead of 25% if he’s an All-NBA team next season forms.

Charania’s report does not detail how much of the treaty will be fully guaranteed, which proved to be a sticking point in the negotiations. He says (via twitter) that the deal is expected to include some protections for the Pelicans and that the two sides sorted those details overnight.

We’ll have to wait for more details on that front but it seems the two sides are on the verge of finding common ground fairly quickly after the former No. 1 overall was officially eligible for extra time.

The agreement ends months of speculation that Williamson could turn down an offer of renewal from the Pelicans to play in a larger market or for a more successful franchise. Williamson has tried to quash those rumors on multiple occasions by proclaiming his love for New Orleans, with his most recent comments coming at his youth basketball camp three weeks ago.

Injuries have derailed Williamson’s career since he arrived in the NBA in 2019 as the hailed No. 1 pick. He missed the entire season after undergoing foot surgery and has played a total of 85 games in three years. However, he has shown signs of being a dominant force, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game and an All-Star appearance in 2021.

A healthy season from Williamson, who turns 22 later this week, could make the Pelicans a serious contender for the Western Conference. New Orleans experienced a late-season rebound after the trade CJ McCollum, advancing through the play-in tournament and into the first round of the playoffs. Williamson could be a crucial factor for an already talented squad but he needs to prove he can stay on the pitch.

Based on the NBA’s most recent cap prediction of $133 million for the 2023-24 season, Williamson’s deal would be worth $231.42 million if he meets the Rose Rule criteria next season, or $192.85 million US dollars if he does not. This without taking into account any protective measures that could be included in the contract.