The New Orleans Pelicans expect Zion Williamson to return to All-Star playing level after recovering from a foot surgery that cost him the entire 2021/22 season.
New Orleans and the young big man agreed to a rookie max extension a couple of days ago, which will keep Zion with the team long-term. The deal is for five years, worth up to $231M, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has agreed on a five-year, $193 million designated maximum rookie extension that could earn him as much as $231 million, CAA Sports’ Co-Head of Basketball Austin Brown tells ESPN. pic.twitter.com/z4lnVLD1GM
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2022
Over the past three seasons, Zion Williamson has appeared in only 85 games with the Pelicans. In 2020/21, his best season so far, he averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists, on 61.1% from the field.
Six weeks ago, the Pelicans cleared the former All-Star to return to play without restrictions, giving him the opportunity to do individual work and return to full form ahead of the season start.
The Pelicans view him as a franchise player and know a healthy Zion Williamaon can make the team a legit title contender. That’s why they granted him the max extension, which clearly shows their faith in him.
With Zion Williamson healthy, New Orleans has its own Big-3 in the young big man, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram. The franchise now has its sights set on a deep playoff run next season, while a return to the postseason certainly is a minimum target.
Last season, New Orleans made it to the playoffs, but lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games in the opening round (4-2).