Report: Jokic, Booker, Towns get supermax contract extensions; Morant, Williamson get rookie max extensions

Booker gets supermax extension:

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker agreed on a four-year, $224 million supermax extension; the deal begins in 2024-2025 and brings Booker’s total contract value to six years and $295 million.

The 25-year-old Booker was named All-NBA(First Team) for the first time in his career and averaged a career-best 26.8 points per game (8th in NBA) as he earned his third-straight Al-Star appearance while helping lead the Suns to the NBA’s best record.

Jokic gets supermax extension:

Denver Nuggets two-time MVP Nikola Jokic has agreed to the largest deal in NBA history – a five-year, $270 million supermax contract extension; the deal includes a player option and trade kicker; the total value of Jokic deal: six years and $303 million, according to Wojnarowski,

The reigning MVP averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.47 steals, and 0.85 blocks per game, setting career highs in each category except assists (second highest). The 27-year-old Jokic, who played 74 games and averaged 33.5 minutes, ranked sixth in the NBA in points, second in rebounds, eighth in assists, 12th steals, and 33rd in blocks per game.

The seven-year veteran became the first player in NBA history to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a season and was named All-NBA First Team.

KAT gets super max extension:

According to Woj, Minnesota Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns has agreed on a four-year, $224 million supermax extension, which begins in the 2024-25 season and delivers Towns’ total contract value to six years and $295 million.

In his seventh NBA season, the 27-year-old Towns finished the 2021-22 campaign ranked 11th in scoring (24.6 PPG), 14th in rebounding (9.8 RPG), 16th in field goal percentage (52.9%), and 17th in three-point percentage (41.0%).

The three-team All-Star was named All-NBA Third Team.

Morant gets rookie max extension:

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant agreed on a five-year, $193 million designated rookie maximum extension that could become worth $231million, according to Wojnarowski.

Last season, the 22-year-old Morant was named All-NBA Second Team and NBA Most Improved Player after setting career highs for scoring average(27.4 points), rebounds per game(5.7 rebounds), steals per game(1.16), field goal percentage(49.3%) and 3-point percentage(34.4%).

Williamson gets rookie max extension:

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson is nearing a five-year rookie max contract extension worth up to $231 million. The commitment will take Williamson’s new deal through the 2027-28 season.

Williamson, 21, missed all of the 2021-22 season after recovering from foot surgery and has played in only 85 games in three seasons. 

In 2020-21, the last time he was on the court, Williamson averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per contest.

Great news for Zion Williamson, Pelicans

On Thursday, the New Orleans Pelicans announced that recent imaging of Zion Williamson’s right fifth metatarsal showed continued improvement. Williamson has been cleared in his return to play progression without any restrictions.

It’s been a long road for Williamson. The third-year forward did not play a game this season after recovering from foot surgery in the offseason.

In November, Williamson was cleared to participate in contact drills, beginning with 1-on-1 workouts and progressively working towards full-team workouts.

However, a month later, Williamson had a setback as he needed a biologic injection into the fracture site to stimulate bone healing in his right foot.

In January, the team announced that Williamson would be continuing his rehab away from the team.

New Orleans had a successful season as they made the playoffs and pushed the Suns to six games in their first-round series.

Williamson is eligible for a max extension, which he said he would be interested in signing. However, he’s played only 85 games in three seasons, so it should be interesting to see what happens next.

Pelicans give update on Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans got some decent news about Zion Williamson.

Recent imaging showed improved bone healing of the fifth metatarsal in Zion Williamson’s right foot. He will gradually progress to full weight-bearing exercise and basketball activities, the team announced Wednesday.

According to the Pelicans, Williamson remains out indefinitely.

The third-year forward has not played a game this season after recovering from foot surgery in the offseason.

In January, the team announced that Williamson would be continuing his rehab away from the team.

In November, Williamson was cleared to participate in contact drills, beginning with 1-on-1 workouts and progressively working towards full-team workouts. However, a month later, Williamson had a setback as he needed a biologic injection into the fracture site to stimulate bone healing in his right foot.

New Orleans(25-36) is currently the 10th-seed in the West and would be in the play-in tournament if the season ended today.

Pelicans’ Zion Williamson to rehab away from team

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will be continuing his rehabilitation away from the team, the Pelicans announced Wednesday.

Williamson  has not played a game this season after recovering from foot surgery in the offseason.

“Since we notified everyone on December 16 of his latest imaging, it was decided then by our medical team to dial his rehab back to only partial weight-bearing activities. He continues along that path,” Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said from a press release . “We also agreed that in order to put Zion in the best position to succeed, he will rehab away from the team at this time so he can focus on the task at hand.”

In November, Williamson was cleared to participate in contact drills, beginning with 1-on-1 workouts and progressively working towards full-team workouts. However, a month later, Williamson had a setback as he needed a biologic injection into the fracture site to stimulate bone healing in his right foot.

“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult process for me,” Williamson said via a press release from the team. “I know there’s work to be done in my recovery before I can safely return to the court, but I will continue to put in the time necessary so I can get back on the floor with my team and represent Pelicans fans and the city of New Orleans at the highest level. Basketball means everything to me, and I am thankful for the Pelicans organization and everyone who has surrounded me with love and support throughout this journey – my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans, and everybody who has stood behind me and uplifted me when I needed it most.”

New Orleans is 13-25, and at this point, it might be in their best interest to let the third-year forward sit out the rest of the season.





Pelicans’ Williamson suffers setback

Zion Williamson’s return to the court will have to wait a little longer.

According to the Pelicans, Williamson had persistent soreness in his right foot, and an MRI showed a regression in the bone healing of his fifth metatarsal. As a result, the volume and intensity of his training will be reduced for an extended period to help allow for further bone healing. 

Williamson, 21, has not played a game this season after undergoing foot surgery in the offseason. In late November, New Orleans announced that Williamson was cleared for full-team activities.

At this point, it might be in the best interest of the Pelicans, who are at the bottom of the West, to take their time putting him back on the court.  



Pels’ Williamson cleared to participate in full team activities

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson is slowly working his way back.

Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the Pelicans announced Friday. According to the team, Williamson, who underwent imaging on his fractured right foot on Wednesday (Nov. 24), was medically cleared by doctors.

Also, Williamson played 4-on-4 full-court today and will continue his progression towards returning to play, according to the team, according to the team.

An estimated date to return to game action has not been determined.

Williamson, who underwent foot surgery in the offseason, has not played a game this season. In 2020-21, the 21-year-old Williamson averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per contest.

Pelicans, Van Gundy mutually agree to part ways

The New Orleans Pelicans and head coach Stan Van Gundy have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced on Wednesday.

Van Gundy, who was named the seventh head coach in franchise history on October 22, 2020, compiled a 31-41 (.431) regular-season record in one season with the Pelicans. Van Gundy has a career regular-season record of 554-425 (.566) with Miami (2003-06), Orlando (2007-12), Detroit (2014-18), and New Orleans.

“On behalf of Mrs. Gayle Benson and the Pelicans organization, I would like to thank Stan for the integrity and professionalism that he demonstrated during his time in New Orleans, as well as the commitment and work ethic he brought to our team,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin via a press release. “This was a difficult decision as I have tremendous respect for Stan both personally and professionally, but we agreed it is in the best interest of our team to move forward in a different direction. We wish Stan, Kim, and their family all the best in the future.”

It should be interesting to see what happens next with Van Gundy. While what happened in New Orleans was a disappointment, the team struggled with injuries this season, so Van Gundy will probably get another shot elsewhere. In the end, Van Gundy and the Pelicans were just not a good fit.

Pels’ Williamson out indefinitely with fractured left ring finger

The New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson has a fractured left ring finger, the team announced on Friday.

According to the Pelicans, Williamson will be sidelined indefinitely. A timetable for his return will be determined upon further evaluation.

Williamson is averaging 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game.

New Orleans(30-36) is in Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Friday night. Currently, the Pelicans are 1.5 games behind the Spurs for the 10th and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

Hardaway Jr. on Williamson: ‘That guy is very, very strong’

On Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans(20-25), the Dallas Mavericks(23-21) were without their top two players in Luka Doncic(illness) and Kristaps Porzingis(rest).

Dallas battled and fought hard against the Pelicans, but they just did not have enough. Zion Williamson scored 13 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as New Orleans defeated the Mavericks 112-103 at Smoothie Kings Center.

Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Mavericks with 30 points off the bench and got the Mavericks back into the game and helped Dallas take a lead after they trailed by 15 points in the first quarter, but this game was all about Williamson, who at times, was unstoppable. 

According to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, Williamson was Shaquille O’Neal-like with point guard skills.

“This is a Shaquille O’Neal type force of nature with a point guard skill-set,” Carlisle said. “And if you back off of him, he’ll just take up space and keep coming at you… You gotta have a lot of courage to stand in there and get run over by that guy.”

One guy who dared to take a charge from Williamson was Hardaway Jr., who took a charge from Williamson in the second quarter, and after the game, he discussed how it felt.

“Taking a charge, let alone picking him up off the ground, helping him up,” he said. “That guy is very, very strong. Strong as an ox. He’s a great player, heck of a player. He does an amazing job attacking the basket, getting his teammates involved; he’s excellent at his strengths… He’s doing an amazing job, hard to defend him.”

The 20-year-old Williamson is a load and can be a tough guard. He does have some Shaq in his game, but a better comparison is probably Charles Barkley because of his size, ball-handling ability, and athleticism. However, to be compared to Shaq is an honor.

The Mavericks continue their five-game road trip on Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Watch as Hardaway Jr. talks Zion Williamson:



USA Basketball names 15 players, including Zion Williamson, Trae Young, Zach LaVine to finalists list for the Olympics

Adding 15 players to 42 previously selected USA Basketball Men’s National Team finalists, 57 athletes today were announced by USA Basketball as finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team. The player selections were approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors. The official 12-member U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team roster will be announced later this year.

Added to the 2021 USA National Team roster, from which the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team will be selected, were  Jarrett Allen (Cleveland Cavaliers); Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets); Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons); Blake Griffin (Brooklyn Nets); Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks); DeAndre Jordan (Brooklyn Nets); Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls); Julius Randle (New York Knicks); Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat); Mitchell Robinson  (New York Knicks); Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors); John Wall (Houston Rockets); Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans); Christian Wood (Houston Rockets); and Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks).

Forty-two of the athletes who were named as finalists on Feb. 10, 2020, also were confirmed for the 2021 list, including: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat); LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs); Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat); Mike Conley (Utah Jazz);  Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers); DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs); Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets); Paul George (LA Clippers); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors); James Harden (Brooklyn Nets); Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Lakers); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers); Gordon Hayward  (Charlotte Hornets); Dwight Howard (Philadelphia 76ers); Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans); Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets); LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); JaVale McGee  (Cleveland Cavaliers); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Victor Oladipo (Houston Rockets); Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns); Mason Plumlee (Detroit Pistons); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); Russell Westbrook (Washington Wizards); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible. These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that,” said Jerry Colangelo, who has served as the managing director of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team since 2005.

“Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The USA National Team coaching staff is led by long-time San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and serving as USA assistant coaches are Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, former Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University head coach  Jay Wright.

All told, there are 29 players who have played for the USA in an Olympics and/or a FIBA World Cup, and together they have won 31 Olympic or FIBA Basketball World Cup gold medals and four bronze medals.

The list of finalists includes nine members of the gold medalist 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, seven gold medalists from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and three gold medalists from the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.

Three-time Olympic medalist James (2008 and 2012 gold, 2004 bronze) could be become just the second U.S. male basketball player to make four U.S. Olympic teams (tying with Carmelo Anthony), while Durant (2012 and 2016 gold medalist) and Paul (2008 and 2012 gold medalist) are seeking to become three-time Olympians.

Nine players from the gold medal winning 2016 U.S. Olympic team that went 8-0 in Rio de Janeiro remain in contention, including Barnes, Butler, DeRozan, Durant, George, Green, Irving, Jordan and Lowry.

Davis, Durant, Harden, James, Love, Paul and Westbrook were members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that compiled an unblemished record of 8-0 and captured gold in London; while Howard, James and Paul were gold medalists with the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.

Eleven members of the USA’s 2019 World Cup Team are among the 2021 finalists, including Barnes, Brown, Joe Harris, Lopez, Middleton, Mitchell, Plumlee, Tatum, Turner, Walker and White.

Seven were members of the 2014 USA World Cup Team that finished 9-0 and captured gold in Spain, including Curry, Davis, DeRozan, Drummond, Harden, World Cup MVP Irving and Plumlee. Five finalists were members of the 2010 USA World Cup squad that went 9-0 and captured gold in Istanbul, Turkey, including Curry, World Cup MVP Durant, Gordon, Love and Westbrook; while Howard, James and Paul earned a bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Cup in Japan.

The finalists represent 24 different NBA teams, with the Brooklyn Nets (Durant, Griffin, Harden, Joe Harris, Irving and Jordan), leading the way with six players;  while the Cleveland Cavaliers (Allen, Drummond, Love and McGee), Houston Rockets (Gordon, Oladipo, Wall and Wood) and Los Angeles Lakers (Davis, Harrell, James and Kuzma) all feature four players; and the Boston Celtics (Brown, Tatum and Walker), San Antonio Spurs (Aldridge, DeRozan and White), Miami Heat (Adebayo, Butler and Duncan Robinson) and the Milwaukee Bucks (Holiday, Lopez and Middleton) each feature three players. The Detroit Pistons (Grant and Plumlee), Golden State Warriors (Curry and Green), Indiana Pacers (Brogdon and Turner), LA Clippers (George and Leonard), New Orleans Pelicans (Ingram and Williamson), New York Knicks (Randell and Mitchell Robinson), Philadelphia 76ers (Tobias Harris and Howard), Phoenix Suns (Booker and Paul), Toronto Raptors (Lowry and VanVleet), Utah Jazz (Conley and Mitchell) and Washington Wizards (Beal and Westbrook) each have two players among the 57 finalists; and represented by one player are the Atlanta Hawks (Young), Charlotte Hornets (Haywood), Chicago Bulls (LaVine), Portland Trail Blazers (Lillard) and Sacramento Kings (Barnes).

Fifty-five finalists possess USA Basketball international or USA National Team experience.  James leads the way with 68 games of international experience, and he is followed by Paul (50), Durant (44), Curry (40), Howard (38), Irving (33), Plumlee (31), Love (28), Westbrook (28), Tatum (26), Barnes (25), Davis (25), Harden (25), Drummond (25), Jordan (23), Green (22), Lopez (19), Turner (19), Brown (18), Walker (18), Beal (16), DeRozan (16), White (15), Gordon (14), Harrell (14), Butler (13), George (13), Joe Harris (13), Lowry (13), Middleton (13), Mitchell (13), Hayward (12), Allen (6), Conley (6), Holiday (6), Randle (6), Brogdon (5), Grant (5), Young (5), Kuzma (3), Lillard (3), Wall (3), Adebayo (1), Griffin (1), Ingram (1), Leonard (1) and Oladipo (1). Additionally, Aldridge, Booker, Tobias Harris, LaVine, McGee, Mitchell Robinson, VanVleet and Williamson have participated in previous USA National Team training camps. Only Duncan Robinson and Wood have no prior USA Basketball experience.

The USA National Team’s complete training schedule for 2021 will be announced at a later date.