After general manager Joe Cronin’s remodeling of the roster, the Portland Trail Blazers sit under the luxury tax with their salary books the cleanest they’ve been in years. Still, bad contracts exist on every NBA roster, with every GM having their share of hits and misses.
In a recent piece, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey dove into this subject by naming every NBA teams’ best and worst value contracts. For Portland, Bailey pinpointed two moves the Blazers made this summer, giving roses to the signing of defensive specialist Gary Payton II and showing apprehension toward Damian Lillard’s contract extension.
Portland poached Payton II away from the Golden State Warriors by outbidding the reigning champions. Signed to a three-year, $26.1 million deal (with a player option in the final season), Payton II is the biggest addition Portland made this summer outside of new power forward Jerami Grant. Bailey sees the 29-year-old journeyman transitioning seamlessly from playing with Stephen Curry to Lillard.
Gary Payton II is one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball, and he added a right-around-average three-point shot in 2021-22.
He’s also an elite cutter with a knack for knowing when to fly to the rim or trail a driver.
Playing off of and supporting Damian Lillard the way he did Stephen Curry last season, GPII should more than live up to his sub-$10 million salary
Speaking of Lillard, Bailey spoke less glowingly of the franchise star’s two-year, $225 million contract extension signed this summer. All in all, Portland will owe Lillard $258.7 million over the next five seasons with a $63.2 million player option for the 2026-2027 season. In the summer of 2026, Lillard will turn 36.
It’s been a heated debate this offseason: Is it smart to invest that much money into an aging, score-heavy point guard? Like many national pundits, Bailey threw an abundance of caution tape on the road Portland is going down with this move.
Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers committing to each other for this long, in an era largely defined by player movement, is admirable.
And in the short term, his massive salary is probably worth it. But $63.2 million for a player in his age-36 season is almost certainly going to be a burden (even if we experience another 2016-like cap spike).
Do you agree with Bailey’s takes? Sound off in the comments below.