The Portland Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard under contract for three more seasons at a total of $136.9 million (the third season is a player option) — they are rebuilding around him and couldn’t really do that unless they had him locked up.
Now they want to add to that security — and reward him for his loyalty.
The Trail Blazers will offer the 31-year-old Lillard a two-year, $100 million extension off his current contract, locking him up through the summer of 2027, reports Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report.
Having landed Lillard’s one-time Team USA running mate Jerami Grant from Detroit before the NBA draft, Portland is now expected to offer the All-NBA guard a two-year contract extension that will exceed over $100 million, sources told B/R.
At the max, the extension would be closer to two years, $107 million.
Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin may want to pause for a second and ask himself if he really wants to commit that kind of money to Lillard starting in his age 35 season. This is a player who missed more than 50 games due to injury last season. Then Cronin is going to go ahead and do it, and for a couple of good reasons. First, before last season’s abdominal surgery, Lillard was one of the more durable players in the league. Second, in a smaller market like Portland, when you have a loyal superstar you reward them every chance you get. Even if you think you may regret the last year of that contract.
From Lillard’s perspective, you take the money — even if he thinks he could want out in a couple of years to chase a ring somewhere else, that contract travels.
Starting center Jusuf Nurkic appears destined to be a part of the Blazers’ future, with a belief among league personnel he will sign a four-year deal worth roughly $17 million in average annual value.
Anfernee Simons also seems like he’ll be headed back to Portland. Rival teams expect Simons’ agreement to be for four seasons, beginning at $80 million, plus room for incentives.
Both of those have been expected. While there had been some questions about Nurkic’s future with the team — rumors had linked Portland to Deandre Ayton and Rudy Gobert — it has looked more and more like they would bring back the big man familiar with Lillard’s game. Simons has been one of the anchors Portland wants to build around after his breakout last season.
A healthy Lillard, Jerami Grant, Simons and Nurkic with Josh Hart back as well — that’s a good team. Is it better than the CJ McCollum and Lillard teams that the Trail Blazers wanted to improve upon? Um… let’s see what other cards Cronin has up his sleeve before we start talking play-in with this team.