Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is working towards a contract extension of four years, $196 million, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. This would be a supermax contract, as Lillard has played in Portland since he turned pro in 2012 as the No. 6 overall pick.
The 28-year-old is coming off a year that saw him average 25.8 points and 6.9 assists per game. In his career, he has posted 23.5 points and 6.3 assists per contest in his career.
His biggest play this season came with a 37-foot jumper to oust the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the Western Conference 1st round. The Trail Blazers then topped the Denver Nuggets in seven games in the ensuing series, and then bowed out in a sweep to the Golden State Warriors.
Portland Trail Blazers Starting Lineup After Damian Lillard Contract Extension
*Notates expected starter
C: Enes Kanter*, Jusuf Nurkic (injured)
PF: Zach Collins*, Meyers Leonard
SF: Maurice Harkless*, Nassir Little
SG: C.J. McCollum*, Rodney Hood
PG: Damian Lillard*, Seth Curry
Between Lillard and McCollum, Portland currently has two of the best guards in the Western Conference. Both average over 20 points per game, both shoot over 36 percent in their careers from 3-point land.
In addition, Lillard is a 4-time All-Star. For a small market team such as the Trail Blazers, keeping a star in the city long-term is key for the future postseason success of last year’s No. 3 seed out West.
Portland already traded away Evan Turner as a reserve combo-guard to the Atlanta Hawks. Meanwhile, Seth Curry is possibly out the door, as well, as the Lakers have contacted him about his upcoming unrestricted free agency. That move would send 45 percent 3-point shooting out of Rip City.
In addition, the frontcourt of Enes Kanter and Meyers Leonard will be bolstered by the return of Jusuf Nurkic. Before exiting last season with a broken leg, he should be able to work his way back into his double-double average form (15.6 points, 10.3 rebounds).
Kanter and Leonard should be able to carry the load until Nurkic is healthy. The Turkish 7-footer posted averages of 13.1 points and 8.6 boards after leaving New York at mid-season. Leonard, for his part, broke out in Game 4 against the Warriors with 30 points (5-for-8 from deep) and 12 rebounds.
Since Portland is in the red for cap space, they may have to let Aminu and Hood go in free agency. That puts the onus on Nassir Little to produce off the bench as a rookie.
Otherwise, this is a balanced roster that needs little attention in the offseason.