Zion Williamson will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer, which makes the next 12 months critical for the Pelicans, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Although he has been hampered by injuries during his first two NBA seasons, Williamson has been brilliant when he’s been on the court, averaging 25.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 85 combined games. He provides a foundation for New Orleans to build around, but the Pelicans will need him to accept a long-term deal.
No player on a rookie scale contract has turned down a maximum-salary extension during the past decade, but Clark notes that Williamson’s circumstances are unusual. He’s already an All-Star at age 20 and he came into the NBA with a reported $75MM deal with Jordan Brand. He may not mind giving up a little bit of money to get to a larger market or a contending team. New Orleans is a combined 61-83 since adding Williamson and has missed the playoffs both years.
“My stepfather taught me different,” Williamson said at his exit interview. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is kind of insane. So I’m not going to sit here and say we’re close. The reality of it is it was very disappointing not to be a part of the play-in tournament and stuff. We just have to come in and be better. That’s just me being real.”
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for today’s Game 4, but the Mavericks expect him to be available, according to Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic has a cervical strain and was feeling pain in his neck and left arm during Friday’s game. “I think he’s going to play, but we’ll see tomorrow,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Saturday. “Questionable, generally, from what I’ve seen this year with other teams and our team is more likely to play than not, in most cases.”
- Olimpia Milano has interest in signing Mavericks big man Nicolò Melli after the playoffs, relays Dario Skerletic of Sportando. The original report came from Daniele Dallera of Corriere della Sera, who says Olimpia coach Ettore Messina has reached out to Melli’s agent several times. Melli spent five seasons with the team earlier in his career.
- Kelly Olynyk exceeded expectations as a scorer and playmaker after the Rockets acquired him from Miami in March, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Olynyk will be an unrestricted free agent, but Houston has his Bird rights and a strong interest in keeping him on the roster.