New Orleans Pelicans superstar Zion Williamson’s future with the franchise has been the subject of intense conversations throughout the NBA world. It will be something to keep an eye on this summer.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Pelicans front office is not necessarily keen on giving Williamson a guaranteed five-year max extension this summer. His tendency to pick up injuries has been very evident throughout his short career thus far. Windhorst said:
“The big drama this summer is about Zion’s contract. At the end of the season, when he spoke to the media, he said he would happily sign an extension when it’s put in front of him. But it’s not that simple. Any player in his situation would sign a five-year guaranteed max contract.”
“But from what I’ve been told, the Pelicans at this point are not willing to offer a full five-year guaranteed deal. And a lot of it is flowing down from ownership. They will offer him a huge contract, but will not guarantee all of it.
“If Zion accepts those terms and still protects himself and maybe gets $100 million plus guaranteed, he signs it and everything is fine. If he doesn’t sign it and wants the full [contract] guaranteed, we can have some drama into the fall.”
Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, missed the entire season. He had already missed almost all of his rookie season (24 games) with a knee injury.
What does the future hold for the New Orleans Pelicans and Zion Williamson?
The New Orleans Pelicans endured a tumultuous season. They started 3-16 under first-year coach Willie Green in the month after announcing Williamson had offseason foot surgery. But the franchise always asserted its intention to make the playoffs, even without Williamson.
The acquisition of CJ McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers at the trade deadline in mid-February accentuated that point. After standing 36-46 at the end of January, New Orleans went 18-14 for the rest of the season.
The Pels then won two play-in games. They then took the Phoenix Suns, who had the NBA’s best record, to six games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Once Williamson is healthy again, he, along with Brandon Ingram and McCollum, could potentially lead the Pelicans deep into the postseason. Williamson was an All-Star, averaging 27.0 points per game, in the one healthy season of his career (last season).
In those three, the New Orleans Pelicans will have players who can get a bucket at will. Williamson will always attract double teams as his game is predicated on his ability inside the arc. When the defense collapses on him, he can dish it out to the open man in McCollum or Ingram.
However, the current need of the hour for both Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans is for him to get healthy and stay healthy. The future of the franchise is essentially predicated on Williamson’s health.