Pelicans Rumors

Pelicans, Zion Williamson Nearing Five-Year Extension

The Pelicans are nearing an agreement on a five-year rookie scale extension for forward Zion Williamson, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania, it’ll be a maximum-salary deal that can be worth up to $231MM. That indicates it will contain Rose Rule language allowing Williamson to qualify for a starting salary of 30% of the 2023/24 cap instead of 25% if he makes an All-NBA team next season.

Charania’s report doesn’t include any details on how much of the contract will be fully guaranteed, which figured to be the sticking point in negotiations. He does say (via Twitter) that the deal is expected to include some protections for the Pelicans and that the two sides were sorting through those details overnight.

We’ll have to wait for more specifics on that front, but it appears the two sides are on the verge of finding common ground fairly quickly after the former No. 1 overall pick officially became extension-eligible.

The agreement ends months of speculation that Williamson might turn down an extension offer from the Pelicans to play in a larger market or for a more successful franchise. Williamson has attempted on several occasions to quash those rumors by proclaiming a love for New Orleans, with his latest comments coming three weeks ago at his youth basketball camp.

Injuries have derailed Williamson’s career since he entered the NBA as a highly touted No. 1 pick in 2019. He missed all of this season after undergoing foot surgery and has played in a combined 85 games in three years. However, he has shown signs of being a dominant force, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game and making an All-Star appearance in 2021.

A healthy season from Williamson, who will turn 22 later this week, could make the Pelicans a serious Western Conference contender. New Orleans staged a late-season surge after trading for CJ McCollum, advancing through the play-in tournament and into the first round of the playoffs. Williamson could be a difference maker for an already talented roster, but he’ll have to prove that he can stay on the court.

Based on the NBA’s latest cap projection of $133MM for the 2023/24 season, Williamson’s deal would be worth $231.42MM if he meets the Rose Rule criteria next season, or $192.85MM if he doesn’t. That’s without considering any protections that might be included in the contract.

Extensions Imminent For Jokic, Booker, Towns, Morant, More

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Suns guard Devin Booker, Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant are all expected to reach verbal agreements with their respective teams on new long-term contract extensions soon after the NBA’s new league year begins tonight, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Cavaliers guard Darius Garland are also “widely expected” to receive extensions this offseason, Stein notes (via Twitter).

Morant, Williamson, and Garland will be eligible for rookie scale extensions, with the exact figures yet to be determined. Rookie scale extensions are available for former first-round picks entering their fourth seasons. The three players’ offers will likely include Rose Rule language that allows them to earn a starting salary of up to 30% of the 2023/24 salary cap (instead of 25%) if they meets certain performance criteria.

Even though Morant, for example, earned an All-NBA spot this year, he would have to make an All-NBA team again next season to qualify for the higher max — the Rose Rule criteria require a player to make All-NBA in either the season before his new contract goes into effect or in two of the three prior seasons.

Williamson’s extension could take a little longer to figure out, given that he’s appeared in just 85 career games and missed all of last season after setbacks following foot surgery last summer. Still, Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said he was “confident” that an agreement would be reached, the only question is how much money will be guaranteed up front.

Jokic, Booker, and Towns will all be eligible for super-max extensions, also known as Designated Veteran Extensions, worth up to 35% of the salary cap. At least one of the following must be a true for a player to be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension:

  • He was named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
  • He was named NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.
  • He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.

Booker and Towns both made All-NBA teams this past season, and Jokic was named the back-to-back MVP in addition to making All-NBA teams the past four seasons.

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is also likely to receive a two-year extension worth in excess of $100MM once the new league year begins, as relayed by Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report and Stein (Twitter links).

Western Notes: McGee, Towns, Wiseman, Williamson, Trent Jr.

JaVale McGee could wind up with another Western Conference contender next season. The Mavericks are very interested in the veteran free agent center and could offer him the two-year deal he’s seeking, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM tweets. McGee, 34, averaged 9.2 PPG and 6.7 RPG for the Suns last season while appearing in 74 regular season contests.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The biggest priority for the Timberwolves this summer is to lock up Karl-Anthony Towns with an extension, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reports. Towns is eligible for an extension of up to four years and roughly $211MM. “I can’t wait to sit down with him and his representation ASAP and keep this thing going,” new president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “He’s special and deserves everything that is going to come his way.”
  • James Wiseman would actually benefit if the Warriors are able to re-sign free agent Kevon Looney, Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Their skill sets would mesh as the team’s center duo and it would ease the pressure on Wiseman, allowing him to focus on his development.
  • The Pelicans’ extension talks with Zion Williamson could take some time to sort out, as Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times Picayune explains. The two sides need to figure out is how much of the extension will be fully guaranteed. Clark’s sources believe there is a possibility that negotiations could drag on longer than anticipated due of this issue. Williamson sat out last season due to a foot injury.
  • The Jazz have expressed interest in Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr., according to Ian Begley of SNY TV. Trent’s cap hit for next season is $17.5MM and he has an $18.5+MM option for 2023/24. He averaged 18.3 PPG in 35 MPG last season.

Jared Harper, John Petty Jr. To Play Summer League With Pelicans

  • Point guard Jared Harper will be playing with the Pelicans, Hoops Rumors has learned. Harper signed a two-way deal in March and will soon become a free agent. He averaged 21.2 points and 7.2 assists in the G League this season, shooting an efficient 50% from the floor.
  • Former Alabama guard John Petty Jr. will also play with the Pelicans during summer league, Hoops Rumors has learned. The 23-year-old signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the franchise last fall.

Draft Room "Exploded" When Daniels Was On Board

  • The Pelicans were holding their breath that G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels would still be on the board with the No. 8 pick, according to William Guillory of The Athletic. They weren’t sure what the Trail Blazers would do at No. 7 — not only which player they wanted, but whether they would deal the pick. Portland wound up taking Shaedon Sharpe, leaving Daniels available for New Orleans. “We had a couple guys we liked that went after, but Dyson was the guy,” Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said. “We had some intel that Portland liked Dyson and they liked Shaedon. So, there was a chance they could’ve taken (Dyson) at (No. 7). When they took Shaedon, the room exploded.”

Pelicans Rated Liddell As First-Rounder

  • Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell was projected in mock drafts as a first-rounder and that’s where the Pelicans had him rated, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Liddell slipped down to New Orleans’ second-round pick at No. 41. The Buckeyes forward averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.6 BPG over 33.2 MPG last season.
  • Even though pre-draft rumors swirled regarding a potential trade of their lottery pick, Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said the team didn’t have serious conversations about moving down from the No. 8 spot, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. They chose G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels.
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash second rounder Karlo Matkovic is close to signing with Slovenia’s Cedevita, according to Antigoni Zachari of EuroHoops.net. The Crotian forward/center, selected 52nd overall, is expected to join New Orleans’ Summer League roster.

Pelicans To Sign Izaiah Brockington to Exhibit 10 Deal

Iowa State guard Izaiah Brockington has agreed to join the Pelicans on an Exhibit 10 contract, according to Richard Stayman of MavsDraft.com (Twitter link).

Brockington played four collegiate seasons for three teams. He started out at St. Bonaventure, spent two seasons with Penn State and finished up with the Cyclones. In his senior year, Brockington averaged 16.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG. The 6’4” guard also made 36.1% of his 3-point tries and was second on his team in steals.

An Exhibit 10 is a one-year, non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract that counts toward a team’s 20-man offseason roster limit, but doesn’t count against the cap unless the player makes the regular season roster.

A player on an Exhibit 10 contract can earn a bonus of up to $50K if he’s waived and then joins his team’s G League affiliate.

Pistons’ Procida, Cavs’ Diop Among Draftees Expected To Be Stashed Overseas

Italian wing Gabriele Procida, who was drafted 36th overall on Thursday night after spending last season with Fortitudo Bologna, is expected to be stashed overseas by the Pistons, reports James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

While Procida is the highest of this year’s draft picks reported to be a likely draft-and-stash prospect, he’s hardly the only one. Here are a few more updates on 2022’s draft-and-stash candidates:

  • After using the No. 39 pick to draft him on Thursday, the Cavaliers intend to keep 20-year-old center Khalifa Diop overseas for the 2022/23 season, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Senegalese big man won the EuroCup Rising Star award playing for Gran Canaria in Spain this past season.
  • The Nuggets plan to stash center Ismael Kamagate in Europe next season, a source tells Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). The No. 46 pick on Thursday, Kamagate had an All-Star season playing for Paris in 2021/22.
  • Italian shooting guard Matteo Spagnolo, drafted at No. 50 by the Timberwolves, will likely remain overseas next season, per president of basketball operations Tim Connelly (Twitter link via Dane Moore). Spagnolo is still just 19 years old.
  • Crotian forward/center Karlo Matkovic, selected 52nd overall by the Pelicans, is expected to join New Orleans’ Summer League roster but will continue playing in Europe for another year or two, general manager Trajan Langdon told reporters, including Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Wizards president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard said after the draft that No. 54 pick Yannick Nzosa will be a “stash guy” in the Spanish League next season, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link).

Dereon Seabron Signing Two-Way Deal With Pelicans

The Pelicans have reached an agreement on a two-way contract with North Carolina State’s Dereon Seabron, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. 

The 6’7″ guard was named Most Improved Player in the ACC and was a second team all-conference choice as a sophomore. Seabron, 22, averaged 17.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals this season while leading the Wolfpack in all four categories.

He is the top shooting guard on ESPN’s list of undrafted players and is ranked sixth overall.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Duren, Dieng, Mavericks, Raptors, Anunoby

The Pistons, who already made news this week with their impending trade of Jerami Grant to Portland, could make another significant move this evening. They are holding ongoing conversations to acquire another lottery pick, with Memphis center Jalen Duren believed to be the target, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets.

Detroit already holds the No. 5 selection in the draft. A report earlier today indicated Pistons GM Troy Weaver is a big fan of Duren.

  • Ousmane Dieng seems destined to be chosen higher than any other international prospect. The French big man, who played for the New Zealand Breakers, has been surging up draft boards and could go as high as No. 8, where the Pelicans are picking, Marc Stein tweets.
  • The Mavericks are covering all their bases, even though their first-round pick is headed to Houston and their second-rounder is headed to Washington, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. GM Nico Harrison says they’re are not actively calling teams to trade into the draft, but have done the prep work needed in case they end up with a draft pick in either round.
  • The Raptors are unlikely to move into the lottery and trade forward OG Anunoby, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets. Most of the chatter surrounding Anunoby has come from the Trail Blazers, who are trying to add veterans around Damian Lillard, Grange adds, while Toronto remains in a ‘be patient and grow’ mode.