Zion Williamson hasn’t played this season, all since undergoing foot surgery in the offseason. Since then there have been many rounds of imaging and multiple setbacks shaking up the Pelicans’ future plans.
With no future date for return, Williamson’s absence places New Orleans in an awkward position. The Pelicans have already exercised Williamson’s player option on his rookie deal, and as a result he is guaranteed to stay with them through 2022-23.
Why Zion Williamson should sign a contract extension with New Orleans
NBA analyst Chris Broussard gave his opinion on what Williamson should do about his future:
“Get your money in case your body never gets right.”
Zion Williamson can be offered a $ 17.5 million qualifying offer by the Pelicans after 2023-24 and may decline if he wishes. If he were to decline, Williamson would become a restricted free agent in 2023 and then an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
The Pelicans drafted Williamson with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft. Williamson was named to the All-Rookie first team in 2020, even after being limited to 24 games after undergoing knee surgery.
Last season, Williamson became the fourth youngest player to be selected as an All-Star. He played 61 of 72 possible games and averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Zion missed the final seven games due to a fractured left ring finger.
Williamson was supposed to be the new dominant force and face of the Pelicans but has been dealing with injuries for a larger portion of his career. In his first three seasons, Williamson has only played in 85 games. In those games, he averaged 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Zion is a wonderful asset when he manages to stay healthy.
The last time the Pelicans made the playoffs was 2018. New Orleans lost in the Western Conference semifinals 4-1 to the Golden State Warriors.
With Williamson dealing with so many injuries this early in his career, Broussard’s comments about sealing a contract are prudent. If the Pelicans offer a large extension, it could be in Zion’s best interest to take it.
Broussard’s opinion stands to be a safe decision in a shaky situation, but Zion has yet to fail in proving his dominance when he is healthy.
Even if Williamson cannot manage to stay healthy, other teams may still stand to pay him a large figure.
There are rumors of Zion being unhappy with New Orleans’ inability to place stars around him. With their newest addition of CJ McCollumZion’s unhappiness should ease.
In his first five appearances for New Orleans, McCollum has averaged 28.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists. If Zion can manage to get healthy and stay that way, he and McCollum may be able to make waves.
At least the Pelicans have shown Zion that they are attempting to build a team. Whether that team has plans for Williamson to stay or not is left to be seen.
Now that the Pelicans are starting to round out their squad, Zion needs to focus on getting and staying healthy. If he cannot manage to do that, his best option just may be Broussard’s opinion for securing his future. In any case, Williamson should arguably be OK regarding contract size regardless of who it is from.