The Portland Trail Blazers acquired Norman Powell in a trade with the Toronto Raptors in order to secure the freakish efficiency Powell has displayed this season. However, can they keep him this offseason as he enters unrestricted free agency? Dan Favale of Bleacher Report lists Powell as the “biggest flight risk” for the Trail Blazers due to the fact that such efficiency means Powell deserves a better contract.
This marriage of volume and efficiency is going to get Powell puh-aid. His $11.6 million player option can’t be declined quickly enough. Something in the neighborhood of $16 to $20 million per year seems not only plausible but likely.
Such a lofty number puts the Blazers in an awkward position. They have more than $70 million committed to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Powell can sponge up plenty of reps at the 3—he’s starting there now—but $90 million(ish) is an awful lot of money to invest in three dudes under 6’4”.
Every scenario under the sun feels in play. Maybe Portland doesn’t care and will just pay Powell whatever. Maybe the Blazers acquired him as a rental. Maybe they’re less scared of giving Powell $18 to $22 million or so per year than they were of paying Trent $12 to $15 million annually.
Spin this however you want. Even if Powell sticks beyond this season, it will not be without at least a dab of drama—in the form of intense and widespread interest from admirers outside of Portland.
The three-guard lineup has been successful so far for the Blazers, as Powell gives them another option if Lillard or McCollum ends up trapped. However, what happens in free agency remains anyone’s guess at this point.
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