Damian Lillard won’t hit NBA free agency until 2016, but he’s already getting a good lesson in leverage.
Because Lillard has been so successful as a pro – winning Rookie of the Year last season and making the All-Star game this season – he could opt out of his adidas contract after this season. Instead, it looks like he’ll use that bargaining chip to negotiate a new contract with adidas.
“We’re close,” Lillard told CSNNW.com on Tuesday. “Nothing final yet. I’m excited.”
Adidas had a 30-day exclusive window to reach an agreement with Lillard and that period was set to expire on April. 1, according to another source briefed on the situation. If a deal was not reached, conversations with Nike and other shoe rivals would have commenced as soon as this week, we’re told.
However, the talks have progressed to the point where adidas is in the driver’s seat.
Lillard, along with his agent Aaron Goodwin, were spotted on Tuesday with adidas’ officials at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, Calif., where positive back and forth dialogue took place, CSNNW.com learned.
Safe to say, Lillard will be getting a raise – and good for him. He’s quickly established himself as one of the NBA’s most dynamic point guards, an energetic bright spot on a surprisingly good team.
Trail Blazers, take notice. Pretty soon, you’ll have to increase Lillard’s salary substantially to keep him, too.
I suspect that will go just as smoothly, but only because Portland has a couple advantages adidas doesn’t. In the NBA, Lillard will become a restricted free agent, giving the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer. Also, quite possibly very relevantly, the NBA has a maximum contract.