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Windhorst: Lillard May Have Interest in Contract Extension this Summer

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Lillard would sacrifice one year on the back-end of the deal if he locks in a contract extension with the Blazers this summer.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard might be interested in negotiating a “supermax” extension with the team as early as this summer, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:

The signs are pointing toward Lillard being interested in a Blazers extension offer this summer. Unlike other stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Anthony Davis, who asked for trades instead of signing the supermax, Lillard has sent signals that he’s interested in locking up a quarter of a billion in the days leading up to his 29th birthday in July.

A “supermax” extension would pay Lillard up to 35 percent of the team’s salary cap in year one of the deal, instead of a “normal” maximum salary of 30 percent for a player with his experience.

Lillard technically hasn’t qualified for the 35-percent maximum yet, but making an All-NBA team this season will do it:

There is, however, one catch for Lillard: He has two seasons remaining on his contract so if he signs this summer the extension can only add four additional years (i.e. it would expire in 2025). If he waits until next season he can an extension that expires in 2026.

The one-year difference is not trivial. His 2025-26 salary will probably exceed $50 million.

Windhorst indicates that Lillard is motivated to negotiate a deal now, and possibly walk away from a significant amount of guaranteed money, because he is feeling “settled” with the Blazers despite any lingering ownership uncertainty.

There’s some uncertainty with the Blazers and their ownership situation. Though nothing firm has been announced, with Paul Allen’s death there is a possibility the team could be sold, which could change everything. Just last season, Lillard had a meeting with Allen to discuss the direction of the franchise, which was a little unsettling to the fan base.

That said, these days Lillard is feeling very settled. Whatever frustrations he talked to Allen about have calmed, sources report, and he’s very comfortable with his commitment to the Blazers. There are no Lillard concerns about ownership uncertainty right now, I’m told.

The rest of Windhorst’s article deals with LeBron James’ future and is worth reading.