The Portland Trail Blazers reached their first Western Conference final in 19 seasons thanks in large part to the play of guard Damian Lillard. Although the Blazers were swept out of that series last night, the franchise is apparently set to reward Lillard this summer.
Lillard and Portland are expected to come to terms on a supermax deal this summer, which would be for four years and $191 million, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Lillard will qualify for that supermax deal if he is voted to one of this season’s three All-NBA teams — an honor he attained for the first time in his career last season.
Yahoo Sources: In building off an incredible run, Damian Lillard and Portland Trail Blazers expected to come to terms on a supermax deal in the offseason: https://t.co/UmzF9Mh5vc
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 21, 2019
Currently, Lillard is under contract for two more seasons and is owed $62 million. The reported supermax deal, should Lillard sign it, would keep him with the Blazers until he’s 34 years old. Per Haynes, the new deal for Lillard is expected to include a player option, which is something he bypassed on his previous contract.
“Look at what we did this year,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “We played without our starting center [Jusuf Nurkic]. We played without CJ [McCollum] toward the end of the season. So, looking at that, we were still able to get here. We were one step away [from The Finals]. And not only here, we had double-digit leads in three of the four games. I think getting here is reassuring that we can get the job done.”
This season, Lillard ranked ninth in the NBA in scoring (25.8 ppg), sixth in total minutes (2,838) and 12th in assists (6.9 apg). To date in the playoffs, he ranks fifth in scoring (26.9 ppg), ninth in assists (6.6 apg) and leads in total minutes played (650). Known for his clutch scoring ability, Lillard scored 94 points in the fourth quarter in the playoffs, which currently ranks 3rd overall. He ranked 18th in fourth-quarter scoring during the 2018-19 season, the first time he finished outside the top 10 in that statistic in his NBA career.
Lillard separated his ribs in Game 2 of the West finals but was playing through the pain. He averaged 33 points in the first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City but struggled against Golden State’s defensive focus on him. Overall, though, this has been a successful playoff run for Portland and Lillard told Yahoo Sports he sees reason for optimism surrounding the team in the future.
“We’re one step away from the Finals, and I see it’s the maturity and understanding how steady you have to be,” Lillard said, per Haynes. “We played great in spurts. We had four great first halves. But those moments where we kind of let up and relaxed and we stopped doing the things that gave us that lead and they pounced on us because they don’t change the way they play. They just keep going, keep doing the same stuff. They overtook every game that way.
“I think one of things we needed was experience and knowing what it’s like to play this far into the season. We’ve never been this far in the playoffs, so I think the experience is something you need. And obviously as players, we’ve got to improve. We have to improve as players. We were in some positions where we weren’t able to capitalize. All of us. From top to bottom. We’ve got to improve. And once those situations present itself again, we’ll be able to hold on.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.