Now that the NBA is past the trade deadline and the All-Star break, attention turns towards free agency this summer, and Portland Trail Blazers’ guard Anfernee Simons is a restricted free agent. Despite his status, Simons’ play has generated a lot of talk, and Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report offers up his way-too-early “hot take” in that Simons will be a top five free agent this offseason due to his current play.
The next month-and-a-half will have significant ramifications on Simons’ contract this summer, which could be bad news for the Blazers if they were hoping to retain the 22-year-old at a hometown discount.
Since the trade deadline, Simons is averaging 29.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists with shooting splits of 51.9/48.9/92.3 in four games. His usage and numbers have skyrocketed when he takes control of the offense without Lillard as well:
Per 36 minutes with Lillard on the floor: 16.9 points, 2.5 assists, 38.7 3P%, 18.8 usage%
Per 36 minutes without Lillard on the floor: 22.3 points, 5.4 assists, 40.7 3P%, 25.6 usage%
Despite the elevated play, there are some provisos: he will have stiff competition this summer in free agency, and ultimately, he is a restricted free agent.
Simons is in the final year of his rookie deal before hitting restricted free agency. His real-time contract is valued at $20.5 million this season per ProFitX.com, with Simons’ production only expected to increase now in a larger role.
In a free-agent class that could contain players like James Harden, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Kyrie Irving, Deandre Ayton, Miles Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Collin Sexton and others, Simons will work his way into becoming a top-five most-desired free agent by the offseason.
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