Zion Williamson’s contract extension with Pelicans has incentives to keep weight in check

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 deal. Once it concludes, he is owed $193 million over a five-year span. 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.

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.

Since the Pelicans drafted Williamson No. 1 overall in 2019, he has struggled to stay in shape. Williamson played only nine minutes in Summer League before his rookie year. He was shut down after bumping knees with a player on the New York Knicks. His poor conditioning played a part in New Orleans’ decision to sit him out for the remainder of Summer League.

For Zion Williamson, the numbers on the scale will be almost as important as the ones on the stat sheet. 


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