August 12, 2022

There’s a lot of positive energy around Zion Williamson these days, including his burning desire to get back on the court as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I want to be here”, Williamson said Saturday at the Central City Dryads YMCA. ” It’s not a secret. I feel like I’ve always been on that every time I’ve spoken.

The Pelicans star was released from any playing restrictions several weeks ago. He’s been a regular at the Metairie Training Center since arriving from Portland, honing conditioning levels, working on his game and building greater camaraderie with teammates.

There is an unmistakable sense of dedication emanating from Zion. Although recent pictures do him justice, we’ve been there before. What’s different this time around is that distinct tunes are publicly sung by Williamson and his family.

After telling the media in his exit interview that he told Willie Green he was ready to do whatever it takes to help improve the Pelicans over the summer, Zion now wants to be a mainstay. of the New Orleans community. He said it himself this weekend and he has already put the words into action.

Beginning June 20, Williamson and her father-in-law, Lee Anderson, will attend a six-week camp at the Dryades YMCA location to support area youth in an effort to combat the growing problem of violence.

“I am saddened by the violence that is taking place in our city,” Anderson said. “Why am I going to say our city? Because we live here now. We all live here. Noah must now grow up in New Orleans. We’re counting on New Orleans to be that place that will accept Noah. Put their arms around Noah as South Carolina puts their arms around Zion.

This is a wonderfully caring business from the Williamson family, showing a real commitment to the local area. This fact should not be overlooked, just like the sentences uttered by Anderson. They all echo a much closer relationship with the city of New Orleans than most people previously assumed ever had a chance to exist.

But the good vibes are also found elsewhere. For example, Williamson’s upcoming contract extension should be completed quickly and seamlessly.

There had been rampant speculation for months that the opposite was going to happen, ranging from Zion potentially signing the 2023-24 season qualifying offer to get out of New Orleans to he will simply force a trade in the near future. coming. Many assumed a contentious negotiation was on the horizon, but the NBA’s top newscaster in the business isn’t planning any such thing.

“You can expect Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, who was the second pick in this draft, to be quick and quick deals,” Adrian Wojnarowski said. “I think the reason David Griffin calls it an easy decision is simply Zion Williamson’s historically excellent offensive numbers in his first two years in the league and now recovering from that foot injury. The form he’s gotten into and the full recovery of that foot, and as we reported, Zion wants to stay in New Orleans.

This fully corroborates what Griffin recently said about the Podcast Ryen Russilloas well as the notion that the Pelicans will be protected in the event of a worst-case injury scenario.

“What becomes important as a team that is a small market team and a team that can’t make mistakes in terms of injuries over time, you have to compensate yourself somehow. for that, and that is good.”

Many have often referred to Joel Embiid, who underwent multiple surgeries on his right foot early in his career, as an apt example of the road the Pelicans should take with Zion. Having completely missed his first two seasons and only appearing in 31 games in his third, the 76ers and their star center agreed on a rookie extension that would lower the guaranteed amount and allow the 76ers to release Embiid if several criteria were not met.

Specific injuries are spelled out in the contract and only include past problem areas with Embiid’s feet and back, sources said. Embiid must miss 25 or more regular season games due to injuries in those areas and play less than 1,650 minutes, for Philadelphia to have the option to release him for cost savings.

If Embiid met those narrow criteria and the Sixers decided to waive him after the 2018-19 season, he would receive $84.2 million from his full contract; after the 2019-20 season, $98.2 million; after the 2020-21 season, $113.3 million; and after the 2021-22 season, $129.4 million.

Philadelphia never had to consider parting ways with Embiid early. Having met the minutes played criteria in the first two seasons of this contract, the last three years of his max rookie extension were fully guaranteed.

Prior to Embiid’s catastrophic injury-specific language in his contract, the Nets and Brook Lopez also reached a similar agreement.

Most recently, Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Memphis Grizzlies agreed to a rookie extension last summer that included 3-piece language that will trigger if he doesn’t meet certain criteria due to his often left knee. hurt.

There are also other, much less publicized examples of teams shielding themselves from players’ pre-existing conditions, including Devonte’ Graham and Wesley Matthews.

Devonte ‘Graham, who signed with the New Orleans Pelicans in August (technically a signing and trade through the Charlotte Hornets), has a prior injury exclusion in his contract for his left quadriceps. The Milwaukee Bucks were also protected in Wesley Matthews’ contract for his left Achilles and right fibula.

An unfortunate example involving a player losing guaranteed money due to the Priory’s injury exclusion language in Exhibit 3 is Jonathan Isaac. With the 24-year-old missing the entire 2021-22 season, Isaac failed to reach a benchmark of 25 games played, which reduced Magic’s contractual obligation to him of $52.2 million to $23.6 million.

Personally, I don’t expect the 3 piece language in Zion’s rookie expansion to be tricky or act as a high bar for Williamson. It is likely that he will have almost every chance to win the full amount of a maximum deal. The Pelicans are simply looking to protect themselves from losing millions and millions to the abyss due to a worst-case scenario.

From a number of different angles, Zion Williamson has already committed to the New Orleans Pelicans on a longer term basis. For the most part, the formality of signing on the dotted line next month just remains on the to-do list before the focus can shift exclusively to basketball.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast stream on itunes, Spotify, embroiderer Where Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.