The Portland Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons will be a restricted free agent this summer and has earned himself millions with his outstanding play in place of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
There haven’t been many bright spots in the Portland Trail Blazers season. Injuries, COVID, and bad defense have combined to land the Blazers in 10th in the Western Conference at 18-26.
But two of the most recently drafted Blazers have shone given the additional playing time those injuries and “health and safety protocol” absences provided them. 2019 first round pick Nassir Little is averaging 9.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and just under a block per game in 25 minutes a night.
But it’s 2018 top selection Anfernee Simons who has been the best player on the court for the Blazers in the month of January. He’s averaging 26.3 points and 7.9 assists in the eight games since the New Year, and in five of those he has shot better than 50 percent from 3-point range.
Simons couldn’t have timed his breakout better. His rookie deal is nearing its end and he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Setting aside momentarily what the Blazers might have to do to be able to keep him, let’s take a look at what his performance might earn him once it comes time to field offers.
While most teams aren’t in great salary cap position going into next season, there are a handful of league doormats that will have upwards of $25 million in salary to throw in the direction of a 22-year old wunderkind.
Simons may not yet be ready for a max deal yet, but he should get some offers north of $20 million. Jaylen Brown signed an extension that will pay him $25 million next year, and Malcolm Brogdon will make $22.6 million. Simons belongs somewhere in between those two.
The Blazers currently have $104 of the $119 million cap allocated to just six players for next season, so any hopes of re-signing Simons will have to come along with some significant salary shedding.
Given his performance in the last few weeks, this should be priority one for the Blazers’ front office.