“This is Max player. That’s easy.”

On July 1, the New Orleans Pelicans will offer Zion Williams a maximum contract extension, which will be worth at least $182 million (and jump if the All-NBA offers next season).

The real question is how much of this money is guaranteed.

The Pelicans’ head of basketball operations, David Griffin, went to Ryen Russillo’s podcast and said he believes a deal will be struck.

“We feel really confident that he’d want to be here, and we’re confident we can come to an agreement,” Griffin said.

As for contract size, Griffin played both sides, saying Zion is a max player but the Pelicans have to protect themselves (Hat tip Christian Clark from Nolanews.com).

Williamson said he would be eager to sign an extension, but he and his agent would want to guarantee every penny of that contract. The ownership of the Pelicans – which also owns the New Orleans Saints – may want to take a more NFL-style approach with Williamson needing to meet specific criteria (like games played) to get it all. The players’ union will take this type of contract seriously.

Zion played 85 games over three seasons and missed 141 games, including the entire last season. There have been concerns about Zion’s body type and playing style, as well as his exercise habits. Will he abide by this contract? He’s been embarking on work at the Pelican facility recently.

This is also where the presence of a veteran captain like CJ McCollum in the locker room helps guide and hold a young player accountable.

Zion’s much-cited contract is Joel Embiid’s junior extension with the 76ers, which wasn’t exactly foolproof but was much closer to that than people think. Embiid had to suffer very specific recurring injuries, and then be waived by the 76ers so they wouldn’t get his money (the Pelicans could only hope that the Zion contract plus Embiid’s contract would work). That may be part of the next Zion deal.

Zion lived up to his No. 1 draft pick when he played, including being the league’s all-time top scorer. Two seasons ago, he He averaged 27 points per shooting game, 61.1%, plus 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per night. Add Zion to Shooting and shooting CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and suddenly Willie Green’s Pelicans — who did an amazing job at the end of last season — look a lot more dangerous.

But first, Pelicans and Zion need to know the state of their nodes.

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