Report: Zion Williamson signs 5-year $231 million extension with Pelicans; deal includes injury protections

Protections for the Pelicans are likely similar to the rookie extension deal given to Joel Embiid in Philadelphia in 2017
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 8:35 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2022 at 8:59 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Former 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and the Pelicans have agreed to an extension that keeps one of the NBA’s elite finishers in New Orleans long-term, and it grants protections in case of injury concerns, The Athletic reports.

NBA insider Shams Charania says that Zion’s deal will add five more years to his current rookie contract and that the extension is worth a total of $231 million. The commitment will take Williamson’s new deal through the 2027-28 season.

NBA free agency began on Thursday, June 30. Although the deal didn’t come immediately at midnight, both sides made it clear early on that there was a motivation to get the deal done as soon as possible.

Pelicans radio host Todd Graffagnini told Fox 8 earlier this week that the only reason why the deal would not be announced in the first minutes of free agency is that both sides had to agree to protections for the Pelicans based on Zion’s injury history.

Charania reports on Friday (July 1) that Zion and the Pelicans were motivated enough to work on the deal all through the night so it could be finalized in the morning.

The 21-year-old missed the entirety of the 2021-22 season with a broken right foot, and he missed significant time at the beginning of his rookie season. However, his sophomore season was a historic campaign that solidified Zion as one of the most efficient and individually dominant players in the NBA when healthy.

READ MORE Zion rising: Signing rookie extension could result in Pelicans’ golden era

First-round draft pick Zion Williamson prepares for training camp with the New Orleans Pelicans.
First-round draft pick Zion Williamson prepares for training camp with the New Orleans Pelicans.(Chris Hagan)

While the world waits on the details of the deal to become public, protections for the Pelicans are likely similar to the rookie extension deal given to Joel Embiid in Philadelphia. Embiid dealt with injuries that slowed his career but he has since become one of the marquee centers in the league.

In the 2017 extension Embiid signed with Philadelphia, if he had continued to struggle with his foot or back, the Sixers could release Embiid and save some money.

Zion will be joining a revamped Pelicans squad now under the leadership of Coach Willie Green, forward Brandon Ingram, and guard C.J. McCollum. After a 1-12 start last season, the Pelicans completely turned things around to qualify for and win the Play-In Tournament for a chance to take the No. 1 Western Conference seeded Phoenix Suns to six games as a No. 8 seed.

There were national critics that doubted the Pelicans’ ability to even reach an extension with Zion. ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins says he will agree to donate to a New Orleans area charity after losing a lighthearted bet.

With Zion in New Orleans until 2027, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, and Trey Murphy III are locked in until 2025 and C.J. McCollum and Jose Alvarado have contracts through 2024.

McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. are eligible for extensions in August.

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