Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers have had a close to perfect relationship with each other. Lillard is the face of the franchise and seems fully committed to staying in Portland so he can make it a contender. The Blazers themselves have committed to building around Lillard and want to win with him. The city’s embraced him. He’s embraced the city. It’s rare to see a star and franchise commit to each other like this these days in an era where players are willing to leave comfortable situations to form super teams.
Portland is making sure to avoid that becoming a possibility anytime soon with Lillard. The Trail Blazers are reportedly offering Lillard a 4-year contract extension worth $196 million. This is the supermax and it should keep Lillard in Portland for the rest of his prime. Maybe he could even finish his career there, but that’s a long time in the future. For now, the Blazers have to be happy they’re going to get their face of the franchise locked in for the foreseeable future, as Shams Charania of The Athletic reports the two sides are working towards making the deal official soon.
This is one of those obvious moves that seemed like it was always going to happen. The supermax was created for two reasons. To give teams another advantage in keeping stars around, but to also reward players and teams that are loyal to each other. The Blazers and Lillard have never shown an indication they don’t want to build with each other and he should be rewarded for that. A supermax is the best way to do that, and will also make Lillard a $50 million man in 2023-24.
This will make it a little bit more difficult for the Blazers to put the talent needed around Lillard to win, but that is the job of every front office. It will require savvy moves and some luck in development, which is the case for every title-winner. Beyond that, not every franchise needs to be in a constant state of boom or bust for title contention. Do the Blazers want to compete for a championship? Absolutely. Can they do that with Lillard? If everything falls their way in the right season and if they make a big trade or attract the right star to pair with him, then it’s certainly possible. The Raptors just proved that a good, not great team can be one move away from reaching title contender status.
Even if the Blazers never do reach that point, and Lillard just ends up retiring as an all-time fan favorite, this was still the right move for the Blazers. There’s more to the NBA than just winning titles, and Lillard has been one of the league’s top stars on and off the court for awhile. He’ll get to continue to do that in Portland for a long time, and that should make Blazers fans very happy.