The New Orleans Pelicans want Zion Williamson around for a while, but only on one big condition.
The Pelicans star signed a five-year, $193 million max contract earlier this month that could be worth as much as $231 million. According to The Times-Picayune, the contract stipulates that Williamson must weigh in at below 295 pounds periodically throughout the deal. His body fat percentage will also be monitored.
Should Williamson tip the scales too much, the amount of guaranteed money in his contract can be reduced.
Zion Williamson’s weight has been a question for Pelicans
Anyone who has followed Williamson’s professional career so far can probably understand why the Pelicans would do this. The 22-year-old’s weight and conditioning have been major issues, like when he reported to training camp last September at “well above” 300 pounds.
Even at his listed 284 pounds, Williamson is among the five heaviest players in the NBA, and the rest of his cohorts in that group are all 6-foot-10 or taller. Williamson is 6-foot-6.
Williamson’s body shape hasn’t prevented him from being one of the most explosive players in the NBA when healthy, but that has been the rub. Williamson has frequently sustained lower body injuries since entering the NBA, missing 44 games as a rookie after tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee and missing all of last season with a broken metatarsal in his right foot.
In three years, Williamson has played a total of 85 games.
Williamson himself seems aware enough of these issues, as The Times-Picayune reports he has been working with a personal trainer and private chef to improve his conditioning and nutrition. He was cleared to play without restrictions in May.
It speaks to Williamson’s star power that the Pelicans still opted to give him a max contract, and he could easily reward them over the next few years. He has so far averaged 25.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting .611 from the field.
When adjusted for minutes and possessions, Williamson has scored at a higher clip in his career than Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry did last season.