On his 22nd birthday, Zion Williamson put pen to paper on a nine-figure deal that will keep him under contract for the next six seasons.
The New Orleans Pelicans forward is entering the final season of his rookie contract. Once it ends, he is owed $193 million over a five-year period. If he’s able to make an All-NBA team, win Most Valuable Player or be named Defensive Player of the Year next season, Williamson could earn as much as $231 million over the term. of his next contract.
In other words, his extension contains escalators – but it also contains de-escalators, if Williamson’s conditioning problems persist.
According to league sources, Williamson’s contract stipulates that he will have periodic weigh-ins throughout his new contract. The sum of his weight and body fat percentage must be less than 295. If not, the amount of money guaranteed in Williamson’s contract may be reduced.
Ever since the Pelicans drafted Williamson No. 1 overall in 2019, he’s struggled to stay in shape. Williamson played just nine minutes in the Summer League before his rookie year. He was arrested after bumping his knees with a New York Knicks player. His poor conditioning played a role in New Orleans’ decision to rule him out for the remainder of the Summer League.
For Zion Williamson, the numbers on the ladder will be almost as important as the numbers on the stat sheet.
Afterwards, former Duke coach Mike Kryzkewski told Forbes that he didn’t think Williamson should have played at all.
“He’s been on this awards circuit, ESPYs, everything,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t think he’s in game shape or in mental shape to play.”
Williamson weighed 285 pounds in his only season at Duke. He was listed at 284 pounds with the Pelicans.
The multiple lower body injuries Williamson suffered as a professional hampered his ability to stay in shape. During the preseason before his rookie year, Williamson tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee. This injury sidelined him for 44 games.
In July 2021, Williamson learned he had fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. When he showed up for training camp in September, he weighed well over 300 pounds, The Times-Picayune reported in February.
Williamson missed his entire third season. He was cleared to play without restrictions in May.
To improve his conditioning, Williamson worked with Jasper Bibbs, a personal trainer who spent five seasons with the Utah Jazz, and Christian Green, a Dillard University alumnus who is a private chef.
“It will definitely put him in top shape,” Green said in an interview earlier this month. “My boy says he wants league MVP this year. I see it. I believe it. I believe Zion will be the face of the NBA once LeBron James retires. I believe it. I see it . He is very healthy now. But once the season starts, he will be in better health.”
The Pelicans are hoping that adding a healthy and motivated Williamson to their core will allow them to build on their upset run in the playoffs last season.
After an injury-riddled start to his NBA career, Williamson appears to have taken steps to improve his diet and conditioning. The contract he signed earlier this month gives him financial incentives to do so.
“It’s been a tough year,” Williamson said after signing his July 6 extension. “For the Pelicans to come and give me this birthday present, I’m not going to let them down. I’m not going to let my family down. I’m not going to let the city down and most of all, I’m not going to let myself down. .