The Portland Trail Blazers have a tall task ahead, navigating through a competitive Western Conference in search of an eighth-consecutive postseason appearance. As discussed by Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic, those pressures won’t get any easier when the offseason comes around, as Portland prepares for a competitive race for the highly-sought-after services of Norman Powell.
The two columnists listed some of the NBA’s hottest commodities during the upcoming 2021-22 offseason. Hollinger noted that thanks to Powell’s age (27), scoring abilities, and the dry crop of talented two-guards, Portland will have a bevy of challengers vying to take the newly-acquired guard away. He also offers some details worth paying attention to in regards to Bird rights:
“Portland’s trade for Powell at the deadline may only serve to make him even more expensive this summer. The Blazers didn’t deal Gary Trent, Jr. — a restricted free agent who is half a decade younger — just to rent Powell and then have him walk in the summer. Additionally, the Blazers are hemmed in by the Bird rights trap: Because they’ll be over the salary cap even if Powell leaves, they have no mechanism to sign a reasonable facsimile should he leave. Whatever the price is, they’re likely paying it.”
All told, Hollinger says it wouldn’t be out of the realm to expect Powell to cost around $20 million, commanding a hefty tax dollar. The early returns suggest Powell could be worth it. Powell has averaged 16.2 points per game on 43-33-85 percentage splits, and the Blazers have a +14.0 net rating in Lillard-McCollum-Powell lineups.
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