Former Duke basketball sensation Zion Williamson came through on his promise to New Orleans.
A player’s word does not mean anything in today’s NBA but Duke basketball sensation Zion Williamson came through on his promise to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Williamson was asked weeks ago at a youth basketball camp if he would sign a contract extension with the Pelicans and the former Blue Devil said he would not be able to sign the contract fast enough if one was offered to him.
Fast forward to July and the All-Star inked an extension with he organization one day after the two sides were able to negotiate.
Reports surfaced that the agreement was a five-year, $193 million deal but the contract could earn the former National Player of the Year up to $231 million if he reaches certain benchmarks next season.
Williamson would receive the full worth of the contract if he is either the Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, or makes an All-NBA Team, whether that be First, Second, or Third Team.
Many believed the 6-foot-6 forward wanted out of New Orleans with conflicting reports that he wanted to team up in New York with his Duke teammate RJ Barrett, who has since been joined on the Knicks by Cam Reddish, as well as disagreements between Williamson’s advisors and the Pelicans front office on how to deal with the unique style of play and body frame of the former No. 1 overall pick.
Former Duke basketball star has tools to earn full contract
Zion Williamson was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2019-2020 but did not make an All-NBA team in 2020-21 despite averaging 27.0 points per game in 61 contests.
Williamson did not play in the 2021-22 season due to a broken foot and multiple setbacks in his recovery, but has been fully cleared to return to the court and is looking reestablish himself with vengeance in the 2022-23 campaign.
The New Orleans Pelicans struggled mightily to begin the season but finished the year as one of the best teams in the NBA to qualify for the Play-In Tournament and push the top seed Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Many NBA experts expect the Pelicans to compete at the top of the Western Conference with a fully healthy Zion Williamson for the entire season.