3. Limits future roster building
Damian Lillard is on a supermax contract that runs through at least 2026. Jerami Grant is an unrestricted free agent, but the Blazers want to bring him back. He will command at least $20 million per season, and Anfernee Simons makes $25 million each year.
With Grant taking just $20 million, which is probably low, Blazers would be paying $89.7 million to three players. Add in another $25 million contract, and they are suddenly at $114.7 million with four players under contract.
Portland plans on keeping Shaedon Sharpe and Nassir Little, which adds another $12.5 million to their books next season and put them just $7 million below the cap with at least six more players to add to their roster. A new deal for Matisse Thybulle and a few added pieces suddenly has the Blazers up against the NBA’s new second tax apron (subscription required) in a hurry. That creates an impossible headache because it hamstrings roster building.
On the flip slide, the number three pick will make $9.6 million next season and will spend four years on a rookie deal before getting a reasonable rookie max extension, which is a bargain for a superstar. In this case, Portland would be able to use its mid-level exception and have several avenues to explore in improving its roster every season.
Having a budding star on a rookie contract is a massive advantage and one the Portland Trail Blazers need to use.