Report: Damian Lillard won’t consider contract extension worth less than the max


Initially left off the Western Conference All-Star roster, Damian Lillard passionately defended his credentials.

He eventually earned a nod as an injury replacement. But, eligible for a contract extension this offseason, Lillard surely hasn’t abandoned his faith in himself.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Lillard, sources said, has no plans to consider signing an extension less than the designated max

There is no reason for him to do so, either.

Lillard is already a star, and his track record and attitude suggest he’ll continue to improve. He’s definitely worth a max contract. If the Trail Blazers don’t offer him one, teams will line up to do so.

Lillard’s salary is locked in for next season at $4,236,287. His extension would begin in 2016-17, when the new national TV contracts are in effect.

Based on projected salary caps, Lillard’s max extension would be worth about $121 million over five years. However, the Trail Blazers could agree to pay more if he meets the Derrick Rose Rule criteria. Lillard would qualify by making an All-NBA team this season or next,* and his projected max would rise to about $145 million over five years.**

*Or winning MVP, but that’s hard to do without making All-NBA.

**If Lillard makes All-NBA this season, he and Portland can negotiate an extension with full knowledge of whether Lillard is eligible for the higher max. If not, they can put a clause in the contract that specifies what happens if Lillard makes All-NBA next season – essentially declaring a salary between his upper and lower limits.

Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul are shoe-ins at guard this season. The other two spots are up for grabs between Lillard, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson.

There’s one – and only one – good reason for Portland not to offer Lillard an extension.

If Lillard signs an extension, he’d count against the cap at his 2016-17 salary when 2016 free agency begins – about $25 million with the Rose Rule and about $21 million without it.

However, if he doesn’t sign an extension, he’d count only $10,590,718 against the cap when 2016 free agency begins (250 percent of his previous salary). The Trail Blazers could use that $10 million-$15 million of created cap space and then exceed the cap to re-sign Lillard because they hold his Bird Rights. Lillard would be a restricted free agent, so he couldn’t unilaterally leave that offseason.

The potential downside for Portland? Asking Lillard to delay getting his new deal signed could fracture his relationship with the franchise. Maybe he seeks a shorter deal as a restricted free agent in 2016 – or, worst case scenario, accepts the qualifying offer and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2017. He probably doesn’t want to put off his deal and risk injury.

But the potential reward – $10 million-$15 million of cap space – is high. Maybe Lillard would take a small risk to help his team assemble talent around him. Again, barring catastrophe, he’d get the same money either way.

This is the dilemma every team with a high-end player up for a rookie extension faces, and as the salary cap skyrockets while rookie contracts remain tied to a scale set in 2011, it will remain an issue.

The Trail Blazers should try convincing Lillard to delay. He’ll get his max contract regardless. It’s just a matter of when he officially signs. The difference is bookkeeping and cap space.

If Lillard isn’t interested in that, just give him his max extension. He’s worth it.

PBT Extra: Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan matchup key part of Clippers vs. Rockets


There are a lot of great matchups to watch in the Clippers vs. Rockets second round matchup. The Clippers primarily used J.J. Redick on James Harden during the season, and it worked with Harden shooting just 38.5 percent. Will Trevor Ariza slow the hobbled Chris Paul? Then there is the question of how the Clippers deal with Josh Smith of the bench if he plays like he did in the Dallas series.

Then there is Dwight Howard vs. DeAndre Jordan.

That’s the one Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. Howard missed all four regular season matchups between these teams and he certainly changes the dynamic. Plus, neither of these guys is used to being matched up on a big as athletic as they are. It will be fun.

LeBron James hung up on Chris Paul after Paul’s Game 7 game-winner


Chris Paul hit THE shot of the NBA season so far, a game-winner in Game 7 of the Clippers-Spurs series.

Afterward, Paul shared a very nice moment with Tim Duncan, a fellow Wake Forest product:

After that, Paul had a more interesting “conversation” with LeBron James.

Tom Withers of the Associated Press:

When LeBron listed his only three close friends in the NBA, Paul was one. I think we just learned something about their friendship.

Lone voter who omitted James Harden from MVP ballot entirely says it was an error


James Harden appeared on 129 of 130 MVP ballots, losing the award to Stephen Curry.

The one voter who left off Harden – Chris Haynes of – says it was inadvertent.

Haynes posted his picks last month, but at least for MVP, that’s not one the NBA counted.

Haynes’ intended ballot:

  • 1. Stephen Curry
  • 2. LeBron James
  • 3. James Harden
  • 4. Anthony Davis
  • 5. Chris Paul

Haynes counted ballot:

  • 1. Stephen Curry
  • 2. LeBron James
  • 3. Anthony Davis
  • 4. Russell Westbrook
  • 5. Chris Paul

It’s not clear what happened, but Haynes called it “an oversight on my part.”

To Harden fans, this is another example of their guy getting shafted. At least this mix-up didn’t affect the final order.

However, if you think this was the only – or even just the second – error in award balloting, you’re probably fooling yourself. These things happen. Kudos to Haynes for addressing it so promptly, which was the only good recourse at this point.

Hopefully, these problems just avoided in the future, but I’m not counting on it.

Stephen Curry wins MVP with 100 of 130 first-place votes, but James Harden closest second place in four years


We knew Stephen Curry would win NBA MVP, but we didn’t know how close the race would be.

The Warriors guard bested James Harden by more than one ballot.

Curry took 100 of 130 first-place votes. Second-place James Harden had 25, and third-place LeBron James took the other five. Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Chris Paul rounded out the final six major candidates.

Harden showed on 129 of 130 ballots, which allowed the Rockets guard to be the closest second-place finisher in points since LeBron James topped Kevin Durant in 2012.

Here’s the full voting with player, team (first-place votes, second-place votes, third-place votes, fourth-place votes, fifth-place votes, points):

  • Stephen Curry, Golden State (100-26-3-0-1-1,198)
  • James Harden, Houston (25-87-13-4-0-936)
  • LeBron James, Cleveland (5-12-62-32-12-552)
  • Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (0-5-33-41-29-352)
  • Anthony Davis, New Orleans (0-0-9-35-53-203)
  • Chris Paul, L.A. (0-0-10-15-29-124)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland (0-0-0-1-3-6)
  • Marc Gasol, Memphis (0-0-0-1-0-3)
  • Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers (0-0-0-1-0-3)
  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio (0-0-0-0-1-1)
  • Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (0-0-0-0-1-1)
  • Klay Thompson, Golden State (0-0-0-0-1-1)