The Portland Trail Blazers extended Damian Lillard‘s contract for a further two seasons in this current offseason. This is an intelligent move for the franchise at the right price. However, the price is certainly not right for the franchise. This is especially so with the age Lillard will be when the extension kicks in.
The problem is that Lillard is already 32 years old, before the start of this season. He then has two seasons left on his current deal before his extension kicks in. This means that the superstar will be 35 before it kicks in. In the final year, he will be 36. He will earn $58.5 million in 2025-26 and then $63.2 million in 2026-27.
— NBA (@NBA) July 15, 2022
To put this into context, the current salary cap for the 2022-23 season is only $123.6 million. The Trail Blazers are already over the luxury tax, which is set at $150.2 million. The Blazers are going to hope that the salary cap explodes over the next few seasons. Otherwise, they are going to struggle to put a competitive team around him.
The Portland Trail Blazers rebuild is going to be a struggle.
The Blazers had been tied to the Lillard, CJ McCollum backcourt until the trade deadline this season. They had invested almost $80.0 million for the next few seasons. They managed to trade McCollum’s contract to the New Orleans Pelicans. Now, instead of giving over $30 million to one player, they have split that between Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic.
However, going forward, it is going to be difficult to split the remainder of the salary cap enough to get quality players to stay. The supermax system was designed to help the smaller-market teams keep their star players. What it is actually going to cost them the ability to win championships. The goal was for these franchises to keep their good players. They should have then been able to add solid role players to round out the team
Instead, teams are just paying out huge sums of money to these stars. They have to choose if they want to go into the luxury tax if they want to win a championship. In order for there to be a fairer playing field, these franchises need a new system. What that system is, I can’t tell you. The NBA is still not a level playing field but it is better than it was. Let’s hope the next CBA helps make it even leveler.