NBA: Zion agrees to five-year extension with Pelicans: report

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 03 2022 09:10 AM

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up prior to the game against the LA Clippers on November 19, 2021 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. File photo. Layne Murdoch Jr., NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up prior to the game against the LA Clippers on November 19, 2021 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. File photo. Layne Murdoch Jr., NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.

NEW YORK -- Zion Williamson, who missed the past NBA season due to a broken right foot, has agreed to a five-year maximum rookie contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN reported Saturday.

Williamson's deal is worth $193 million but has escalator clause incentives that could bring the power forward as much as $231 million.

The extra money would be triggered if Williamson can make the All-NBA Team or win NBA Most Valuable Player or Defensive Player of the Year awards next season.

The top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has struggled with injuries but shown moments of brilliance in his NBA start, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists over 85 contests from 2019-2021.

Williamson suffered a knee injury in his rookie season that delayed his NBA debut until January 2020.

Williamson will turn 22 on Wednesday, which is the first day NBA players can sign contracts for the 2022-23 season. Until then, deals are generally released by agents or in reports with clubs unable to confirm any moves.

As a rookie, Williamson matched Shaquille O'Neal as the only teens in NBA history to average 20 points and shoot 55% from the court.

The Pelicans, boosted by C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram, went 36-46 last season and lost to Phoenix in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the first post-season trip for New Orleans since 2018.

Adding a healthy Williamson to the mix could make the Pelicans yet another contender in a packed Western Conference fight next season.

- Durant's cryptic tweet -

Kevin Durant posted a cryptic tweet on Saturday in his first public comment since it was revealed he has asked to be traded from the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.

The two-time NBA champion and 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player sent a shockwave through free agency with reports Thursday he wanted to leave the Nets, with Phoenix and Miami his preferred trade destinations.

Durant, a 14-year NBA veteran, provided little clue about his motivations on social media even as he ended his silence on the matter.

"The ones who were locked in that gym with me know what it is, they know what I'm about," Durant tweeted. 

"If u haven't been in there with me, ask around."

Durant, who turns 34 in September, averaged 28.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists in the past two seasons with the Nets after leaving Golden State and missing the entire 2019-20 campaign with a right Achilles tendon injury.

The 12-time NBA All-Star forward has helped the United States win the past three Olympic gold medals.

His arrival with the Nets together with Kyrie Irving brought hopes that Brooklyn would become a powerhouse club but such lofty dreams never came to pass.

The Nets lost in the second round of last year's playoffs to eventual champion Milwaukee and were swept out in the first round of this year's playoffs by Boston.

Teams will struggle to be able to make a trade for Durant that satisfies the Nets.

Durant has four years and $198 million remaining on a contract extension signed with the Nets, and multiple reports say Brooklyn has set a high trade haul for any club interested in a deal for Durant.

The Athletic reported on Saturday that the Minnesota Timberwolves asked the Nets about Durant but were told the number of All-Stars and NBA Draft picks Brooklyn sought and, not wanting to part with Karl-Anthony Towns, decided to swing a deal on Friday with Utah for Rudy Gobert.

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