Powell Re-Signs In Portland Thanks To Security And 'So Much Love'

Norman Powell had a good idea of which team he was going to sign with once the NBA’s moratorium ended last Friday, but even so, he still wanted to know of all of his options, typically a wise choice when making a potentially life-altering decision. So he listened to his agent and looked over the potential offers before coming to a final conclusion.

“I went into it with an open mind,” said Powell. “It’s not that I wasn’t going to come back or anything like that; it was my first time going through free agency. I went into it with an open mind just to see and experience the whole process and how it works. I didn’t know really want to expect, I just wanted to go and be in a situation that was right for me, where I can have the room to accomplish the things I want individually and as a team.”

In the end, that situation was in Portland.

After doing his due diligence, Powell, acquired from Toronto in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood at the 2021 trade deadline, decided to re-up with the Trail Blazers for five years after being offered a deal reportedly worth $90 million.

“Especially for me, seeing that number and the years, having that security, something that’s not only life-changing, but generational wealth for not only me but my family and the little ones I plan on having in the future, to be able to lock that in is really big for me,” said Powell. “It’s not the reason why I play the game but it’s definitely beneficial and helpful for me.”

While he rightly notes that money and the security of a five-year deal are great, Powell was also quick to point out the decision went well  beyond numbers on a ledger.

“I’m excited to be able to do that with an organization that has shown so much love and want to have me there, really appreciative of my skill set, the person I am on and off the court,” said Powell. “You always want to go somewhere you feel loved and wanted and I felt that Day One, before I even stepped foot on the court with the team when the trade went down in March, the phone calls and everything, talking to the guys. So I was really excited and happy.”

Trading for a player on an expiring contract can be a tricky proposition, as it doesn’t give the player nor the team a whole lot of time to get to know each other before the season ends and everyone goes their separate ways. And those issues were exacerbated this year due to scheduling and protocols changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which not only limited the time the Trail Blazers had to convince Powell to stay, but didn’t allow for the kind of off-court relationship-building between players that would typically improve the chances of a player re-signing.

But according to Powell, the concerted effort by the team and players to convince him that Portland is where he should spend the prime years of his career was integral in his decision.

“From Neil (Olshey) to the behind-the-scenes people at the Moda Center and the practice facility, from top to bottom, everybody that I came into contact with and had interactions with really showed love of having me here,” said Powell. “Everybody was talking about how thrilled and excited they were to acquire me at the trade deadline, so that was good. They’re always giving me recommendations of places to go, see and check out around Portland, so that was always good.”

But it might have been the effort from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum that helped the most. Players can be protective of their turf when new players arrive, especially when they also happen to play the same position, so for Portland’s long-time starting backcourt to not only welcome Powell, a 6-3 guard on the precipice of his seventh NBA season out of UCLA, but to drive home how important his re-signing was to each of them personally really helped to assuage any concerns he might have had.

“Dame reaching out, telling me that he wants me to come back, he wants me there, that text message goes a long way, a deciding factor,” said Powell. “Having a superstar like that want you on his team because he sees the value in my play and my skill set to help get to the ultimate goal where he wants to be with this organization and franchise -- winning a championship -- for him to say that he wants me there to help get to that feat means a lot. CJ called me the day before free agency, wished me luck, wished me well, wanted me to come back, that he understood it’s a business but that he really wanted me to re-sign with the team.”

And after the players made their pitches, so too did Olshey and Chauncey Billups, who met with Powell for a few hours to lay out their vision of the direction of the team and his importance to achieving their shared goals.

“I talked to Neil and Chauncey, just talking about the nuances of different things and what it’s like, my overall experience, things that could be better, that they could do better,” said Powell. “But the overall message was how much of a priority I was to them going into free agency. The love was there from the start and I could feel the love leading up to the signing.

“And even after, Neil was super excited when I came in on Friday to officially sign the contract, telling me he’s not going to lose an ounce of sleep with this deal. He trusts in my abilities, everything I bring to the table. That’s something that I never really felt all the time in my time in Toronto, but I definitely felt that here.”

And now, “here” will be “home” for Powell for the foreseeable future. He’s got significant financial security, feels valued in a way that he hasn’t before in his professional career and is ready to take on more of a leadership role (more on that soon) now that he’s no longer the new guy. So all in all, it was a remarkably successful first foray into free agency.

“It’s a good thing to be able to get a deal done,” said Powell. “First day of free agency, everybody’s real stressed and on their toes about what’s going to happens, where players are going to end up. So to be able to figure something out to re-sign and come back was a good feeling.”