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New Orleans Pelicans vice prez calls Zion Williamson max offer ‘easy decision’

Andrew Buller-Russ

When healthy, Zion Williamson is among the most talented players in the NBA. Unfortunately, the soon-to-be 22-year-old (July 6), has played in just 85 games since becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Now after the strange season Williamson just had, in which he missed the entire year nursing a foot injury, he’s eligible for a contract extension, including a max offer that could reach five years and $186 million.

Because of his recent injury history, there’s been some uncertainty surrounding Williamson’s immediate and long-term future with the Pels, and others questioning whether he’s worth a max contract offer, citing durability concerns. But that might not be an issue at all in New Orleans.

Zion Williamson’s contract likely to have injury protections

Some might see Williamson’s past troubles and wince at what might be in store for the 6-foot-6, 284-pound explosive athlete in the future, which is a factor the Pelicans are keeping in mind as they debate their first contract extension with the star power forward.

David Griffin, the vice president of basketball operations for the Pelicans doesn’t appear to be worried about extending Williamson a max offer, but he is wary of other potential disasters in the future. It sounds as if Griffin’s bigger concern lies with protecting the team against further injuries.

“What becomes significant as a team that’s a small-market team and as a team that can’t make mistakes in terms of injuries over time, you have to indemnify yourself in some way for that and that’s fine. But the decision of whether or not this is a max player is an easy one. It’s really going to be about if you’re all the way in with us this is what it looks like and we’re all the way in with him and I think we always have been.”

Pelicans VP David Griffin on Zion Williamson contract

This isn’t unprecedented, as the Philadelphia 76ers also put injury stipulations in place when signing Joel Embiid to his max contract, with different salary levels which were reachable depending on how many games he played.

For the Pelicans, they just don’t want to get stuck paying a max amount of money for a minimal amount of games, which makes sense given Williamson’s recent history. But if he can get back and play most of the season, I don’t think anyone will have any complaints at the end of the year.

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