There's no denying that New Orleans Pelicans' franchise player Zion Williamson has a lot of untapped potential. The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has been in the league for about 3 years now, but there's still a lot left to be desired in terms of play. Williamson hasn't played a full NBA calendar year, and that's all because of the health and weight issues he's had to deal with over time.
The Pelicans are standing firm
That's why with Williamson's rookie extension now signed and sealed, he'll be owed $193 million over 5 years but in one condition. According to Pelicans beat writer Christian Clark, Zion can only collect his full money if he stays under a magical number - 295.
"According to league sources, Williamson's contract stipulates that he will have weigh-ins periodically throughout the entirety of his new deal. The sum of his weight and body fat percentage must be below 295. If it is not, the amount of guaranteed money in Williamson's contract can be reduced," Clark writes.
As of right now, Williamson reportedly weighs 284 pounds, so if he keeps that up, he shouldn't expect any deductions on his salary. While there are ramifications for Zion if he doesn't get his physical health intact, the Pelicans are also motivating him by promising him a raise if he attains an individual award.
"If he is able to make an All-NBA team, win Most Valuable Player or be named Defensive Player of the Year next season, Williamson could make as much as $231 million over the life of his next deal. In other words, his extension contains escalators — but it also contains de-escalators, should Williamson's conditioning issues continue," Clark added.
All eyes are on Zion
With the Pelicans' inspiring Playoff run last season, it seems the team is heading in the right direction. Brandom Ingram has blossomed into an All-Star, CJ McCollum has taken a leadership and veteran role, while Herb Jones, Jonas Valančiūnas, Jaxson Hayes, Trey Murphy III, and the rest make New Orleans a decent team. All the Pelicans need is Williamson's superstar powers to complete the roster, and they should be a force to reckon with in the Western Conference.
The pressure is on Williamson to bounce back after three underwhelming seasons in a row and prove that he's worth a rookie extension. Remember, the last time Zion was healthy, he averaged 27.0 points, 3.7 assists, and 7.2 rebounds a game in 61 games played. There's no question that the sky is the limit for him, however, his physical health and determination get in the way.