With a lot going on in the Portland Trail Blazers organization, we thought it would be a good exercise to get some takes from the Blazer’s Edge staff and bring it into one place.
The purpose of this exercise is to ignite a conversation and have it continue in the comments below, so feel free to chime in with your take on the subject.
For this roundtable, we look back at Anfernee Simons’ $100 million contract handed to him in free agency by the Blazers and discuss whether he was paid too little, perfectly, or too much.
Here’s what the staff had to say:
A lot of people were surprised by Anfernee Simons making as much as he did in free agency. He’s yet to play more than 70 games in a season, but he’s definitely worthy of the massive deal the Blazers gave him.
They paid him $100 million for the player he’s projected to become in the next four years, not the player he’s been the past four. That’s the key to this deal. It’s a massive risk because the team is essentially banking on Simons being a true All-Star caliber player.
Marlow Ferguson Jr.
There’s no question that Anfernee Simons deserved to be paid at least in the ballpark of what he earned. One sort of wonders who the competition was at this price tag, and the idea that guard contracts across the NBA helped get Simons a boost have been entertained. But, Spotrac has Simons’ contract as the No. 11 highest among two-guards and No. 53 across the entire NBA. For a 23-year-old with his trajectory, potential and work ethic, Simons should outplays that paycheck. Over a two-month span from Jan. 3 to Mar. 5, he averaged 23.4 points, 5.8 assists, and 2.7 rebounds on 46-42-87 percentage splits; those types of numbers don’t grow on trees.
Redundancy could be a worry here, knowing that the Blazers have already tried the double combo-guard lineups with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but maybe Simons’ youth and more prioritizing on defense creates a different result. It feels like a must-have. There was no way the Blazers could let him walk for nothing. For one, with Lillard’s expectations of a contending roster next season, allowing his protégé to leave with no return would have fanned the flames on that frustration. And two, Simons is a perfect fallback for if that plan flops. Incredibly, the two have only started three games together — all in 2019-20 — so that feels like something to watch for with this new deal.
Absolutely. Even if Simons isn’t the multi-time All Star we hope he is, it’s a fine number. This deal needs to be looked at beyond this season. Next season the salary cap is projected to be at or around the $133 million mark — and will continue to rise.
A $25 million contract is just under 19 percent of that $133 figure. For a 23-year-old, penned in to be this team’s starting off guard, it fits. If Simons does, in fact, continue to build on last season, adding half-decent defense and improved facilitating, he’s almost certain to outplay his deal. In the words of Brad Pitt’s character Aldo Raine in Inglorious Basterds “I’d make that deal, I don’t blame you, damn good deal.”
Is he worth it right now? Probably not. However, as the Blazers have been unable to land another star alongside Lillard, banking on Ant’s potential to become that star is not a bad option. It’s not an egregious contract by any means, but was more than I expected.
This contract is a win for the Blazers. He has improved every year in Portland, and there is no reason to believe he won’t continue to do so. Given the increase in the salary cap, all it would take is a modest increase on defense while sustaining what he’s already demonstrated on the offensive end for this to be a very reasonable contract. If he can make a significant jump on defense and continue to grow on the other end this contract becomes a bargain. It’s also a very tradable contract should there be an opportunity that’s too good for Cronin to pass up.