The Portland Trail Blazers are at a crossroads after Damian Lillard’s trade request. He only wants to be dealt to the Miami Heat, but the Blazers need to maximize the return. It will likely take a third or fourth team for both sides to get what they want, and that is why things have been so slow coming together.
Portland drafted Scoot Henderson second overall, and the 19-year-old projects to be a superstar. It will take time, but the Blazers could be back in contention with a new point guard in short order. They must maximize their return for Lillard and build the roster around Scoot. It is a shift in focus the franchise should already have made.
Portland has just 12 players under contract, and they need to maximize the long-term potential of their roster moving forward. Who is making too much? Do they have players that are earning less than they should? Here is a look at the best and worst values currently on their roster.
3 Overpaid Portland Trail Blazers, 3 underpaid for the 2023-24 season
Overpaid: Nassir Little
Little signed a four-year $28 million extension at the start of the 2022-23 season. He averaged 9.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game the previous year as a 21-year-old, and it seemed like it would be a bargain contract for the Blazers.
One year later, Little took a massive step back. His minutes and production declined as the 6’5 wing posted a negative value over replacement player (VORP) and a 0.032 win shares per 48 minutes, which is well below the league average of 0.100.
The extension begins this season with Little under contract until 2027. Last year’s 54 games were a career-high, and he is averaging just 17.1 minutes a night through his first four seasons. Will Portland regret giving him a long-term deal?
Nassir Little looks slightly overpaid going into the 2023-24 season, but the 23-year-old could flip the narrative with a bounce-back or breakthrough season. His production is something to watch closely.