David Griffin said negotiating Zion’s extension would be a “challenge.” What this means? | Pelicans

In the fall of 2017, the Philadelphia 76ers made a massive bet on a player who showed brilliance in the first three seasons, but could not stay on the field due to injuries to his lower body.

Joel Embiid played in 31 games when he agreed to a five-year extension and $ 146.5 million with the 76ers. Embiid was sidelined for the first two seasons due to a broken bone in his right leg. He returned for the start of the 2016-17 season, but broke his meniscus in his left knee weeks before the All-Star break.

This offseason, the New Orleans Pelicans will try to negotiate a contract extension with a talented young man in similar circumstances. Zion Williamson has played in 85 matches in three seasons. As of July 1, he is eligible for a five-year extension that could pay him 25% of the NBA salary cap with annual increases of 8%.

In April, Williamson said he would not be able to sign an extension “soon enough.” But chances are it will not be a simple negotiation because of his health problems. Williamson missed most of his rookie season with a broken meniscus in his right knee and was ruled out for the third season due to a broken bone in his right leg.

What is a fair trade for an often injured player who is such a force? Someone a championship-winning coach compared to Shaquille O’Neal as a goalie?

Pelicans and Williamson’s representatives will try to answer this question this summer.

“Obviously, that conversation will be challenging,” said David Griffin, executive vice president of basketball operations. “It simply came to our notice then. And now what we’re focusing on is for him to be healthy and to be in an elite condition to play basketball, and we’re going to start from there. “

Here are three things to know as a window to negotiate an extension approach.

The 76ers were protected if Embiid could not be healthy – somewhat.

The extension signed by Embiid in 2017 meant that the 76ers were in crisis for most of the $ 146.5 million contract, even if Embiid’s sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth seasons they performed similarly to the first three.

The contract contained a specific language that allowed the 76ers to drop Embiid if he failed to hit the games played and the reference minutes due to the specially agreed injuries.

If Embiid missed 25 or more games and played less than 1,650 minutes in any of the last four years of overtime due to leg or back injuries, the 76ers could have given up. But even then, he would have paid $ 84.2 million after the 2018-19 season; $ 98.2 million after the 2019-20 season; $ 113.3 million after the 2020-21 season; and $ 129.4 million after the 2021-22 season.

Fortunately, Embiid’s health improved. In the final season of his rookie contract, Embiid averaged 22.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks and was named All-Star for the first time in his career.

In the last half decade, Embiid has become one of the most dominant players in the NBA. He finished second in the MVP vote in each of the last two years.

It is not hard to imagine that Williamson will follow a similar path if he can become healthy and is committed to staying fit. At 20, Williamson averaged 27.0 points per game at 61.1% of hits – a record high scoring season. When Williamson plays, he has demonstrated his ability to be one of the most dominant paint scorers in the NBA.

A prediction for the games played is a potential blocking point.

When Williamson underwent knee surgery before his rookie season, the Pelicans estimated that it would take six to eight weeks to play again. It took Williamson more than 13 weeks to make his NBA debut. Williamson wanted to play. The team didn’t think he was ready. This caused friction between him and the team’s medical staff.

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This spring, on his return from a two-month break in Portland, Oregon, Williamson felt ready to play. Once again, the Pelicans disagreed.

“Do I expect him to play?” Lee Anderson, Williamson’s stepfather, said in April. “I expect him to play. If you were to ask Zion, I’m sure she would probably say the same thing. “

Do you feel a pattern?

Williamson and the Pelicans were not always on the same page when they determined how soon the young star could return from injury. Therefore, any provision in his next contract linking the number of games played with salary incentives is something to look out for.

Williamson did not play during the long run this season due to concerns that the risk of injuring his leg as a surgically repaired leg would be high if he returned to the field. The hope is that the young star will be able to use this off-season to become completely healthy.

Williamson was scheduled to undergo another stage of medical imaging on his right leg last week, sources told The Times-Picayune. If the last round of medical imaging goes well, Williamson will be able to train without restrictions.

Here are other extensions to keep in mind.

The extensions given to Jonathan Isaac and Michael Porter Jr. are two examples of offers recently negotiated by teams with talented strikers who have health problems.

In August 2020, Isaac broke his ACL and meniscus in his left knee. Four months later, the Orlando Magic signed him for a four-year, $ 80 million extension. Isaac hasn’t played for more than two years. Because he missed so much time, the guaranteed money that Magic owes him in each of the next three seasons decreases.

  • 2022-23: $ 16 million guaranteed
  • 2023-24: $ 7.6 million guaranteed
  • 2024-25: 0 USD guaranteed

If Magic gives up Isaac after the 2023-24 season, he doesn’t owe him any money.

The Porter extension signed in September was much more player-friendly. The Denver Nuggets offered Porter $ 145.3 million in guaranteed money for five years. Porter’s contract was fully guaranteed for the first four years of the transaction. Before the fifth year, the Nuggets have the option to give it up, but they would still owe him $ 12 million.

Porter has been suffering from back problems since college. In December, he had his third back surgery in 2017. He has played in nine matches this season.

Negotiations between the Pelicans and Williamson’s representatives this summer will likely focus on the amount of money guaranteed during the transaction. The Pelicans will work for protection if the next few years of Williamson’s career are similar to those of his first three years in the NBA. Williamson’s representatives will strive for as much guaranteed money as possible, because when Williamson is healthy, he deserves every penny of a maximum extension.

Embiid missed 87.4% of the 76ers’ games in the first three seasons. In the next five seasons, he missed 24.0% of their matches.

Is Williamson able to make a similar leap in availability? This is a difficult question to answer – and one that will be the biggest factor in the contract negotiations this summer.

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