New Orleans Pelicans VP David Griffin calls Zion Williamson a max player, says extension 'easy decision'

New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin called Zion Williamson a max player and said it is an "easy decision" to offer him a big money extension.

Williamson is eligible to sign a five-year, $181 million max rookie extension this summer. But after missing all of the 2021-22 season with a right foot fracture, and having played in just 85 games in his three-year career, his availability going forward remains a question.

Speaking on The Ryen Russillo Podcast, Griffin said Williamson is "historically good" when he's on the court.

"It's not a big decision, it's a pretty easy decision," Griffin said of offering the former Duke star a max extension. "The kid's historically good when he plays ... this is a max player, that's easy."

Griffin did note, however, that the team would need to protect itself in some way against the risk of injuries.

"What becomes significant as a team that's a small-market team and as a team that can't make mistakes in terms of injuries over time, you have to indemnify yourself in some way for that and that's fine," he said. "But the decision of whether or not this is a max player is an easy one. It's really going to be about if you're all the way in with us this is what it looks like and we're all the way in with him and I think we always have been."

The timeline for Williamson's return from injury was murky to begin the season, and he began rehabbing away from the team in Portland in January. But Griffin said the team had always been on the same page with Williamson and feels good about its relationship with him.

"It was really comforting when he did his media availability postseason and said how much he buys into this," Griffin said. "I saw him be utterly moved by Willie Green and his staff and this team quite frankly during that playoff run. So we feel really confident he wants to be here and we feel equally confident we can come to an agreement."

During that news conference with media in April, Williamson said he would "of course" sign an extension if it was offered to him.

"I couldn't sign it fast enough," he said.

Williamson, 21, holds career averages of 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting just over 60% from the field.