Lillard Signs Extension with Portland; Ayton Stays with Phoenix
Portland – Damian Lillard has signed an extension with the Portland Trail Blazers, keeping him loyal to the team that drafted him in the 2012 NBA Draft until the 2026-27 season. This is according to a source that knows the negotiations. The deal is worth USD225 million. The 32-year-old Lillard signed the extension with one thing in mind. It is to return with a bang after a disappointing season cut short by a core injury.
Reports said the 6-foot-2 guard will earn USD59 million in the 2025-26 season and USD63 million in the next. He will receive USD137 million over the next three seasons before the extension starts. Blazers coach Chauncey Billups lauded Lillard’s decision to stay with the team. This is despite coming off a bad 2021-22 season. They ended up 13th in the Western Conference standings with a 27-55 win-loss mark. The Trail Blazers rule the point guard out for the remainder of the season. Also, Portland trades Lillard’s backcourt partner CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans. The trade allows the Trail Blazers to free up some salary cap space.
The transaction allows Portland to acquire Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons. Also, they sign free agent Gary Payton II from the Golden State Warriors. In 10 seasons with Portland, Lillard has averaged 24.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. The five-time All-Star is a career 37.3% shooter from the three-point area and 43.7% overall. The Weber State alumnus averaged 89.3% from the free throw line in 711 regular season games. He was part of the United States team that won the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Portland and basketball fanatics who love NBA online betting are looking forward to the revamped Trail Blazers with a rejuvenated Lillard leading the charge.
Suns Retain Ayton After Matching the Pacers’ Offer Sheet
The Phoenix Suns retained the services of center Deandre Ayton after matching the Indiana Pacers’ USD133-million, four-year offer sheet that the former number one draft pick agreed to on Thursday. Reports said Ayton first agreed to the Pacers’ offer, but the Suns responded quickly by matching the offer sheet. The transaction keeps the 6-foot-11 slotman with Phoenix. This retains the core that won the 2021 Western Conference championship. It sets up a collision course with the Milwaukee Bucks in the Finals. Veteran point guard Chris Paul and scorer Devin Booker are part of the Suns’ core. They will continue to contend in the West. In the 2021-22 season, the trio helped the team earn a franchise-record 64 wins during the regular season. Ayton was eligible for an extension from Phoenix last summer, but that failed to materialize, and the Suns allowed him to become a restricted free agent.
Suns Shopping for Durant
Reports said Phoenix was interested in getting Brooklyn Nets forward and former NBA champion Kevin Durant during the offseason. However, the new deal will not allow the 24-year-old Ayton as a trade bait. The Suns’ move is a big blow for the Pacers that were looking to add the center to its team and help 22-year-old point guard Tyrese Halibuton. The deal will likely make Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard shop for a big man as they have enough assets to secure a marquee player that will help the team’s campaign in the 2022-23 season.
Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while shooting 63.4% from the field and 36.8% on three-pointers last season. The Suns matching the offer speaks volumes in the league, meaning they are serious in making another playoff run and win their first championship in franchise history. Keeping Ayton in the roster will make Phoenix a contender again in the coming season and give the Golden State Warriors a run for the money. The top sports betting website will continue giving updates in the run-up to the 2022-23 season.