Damian Lillard can now sign supermax extension -- but what is that?

Damian Lillard can now sign supermax extension -- but what is that?

When it was officially announced earlier today that Damian Lillard was named to the all-NBA second team, it meant a financial windfall to the Trail Blazer point guard. He is now eligible to sign a supermax contract extension with the team.

There are three ways to qualify for a supermax contract extension and only a player who has (or will have) completed eight years of NBA service by the end of his current contract is eligible to sign a supermax deal, which can only be offered by the team that drafted him or traded for his rookie contract:

  • Be named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season or both seasons before it.
  • Or, be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season or both seasons before it.
  • Or, be named NBA MVP in any of the three previous seasons.

The supermax is officially called the “Designated Veteran Player Extension." The provision allows teams to re-sign qualified players to maximum five-year contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap with eight percent escalation in each subsequent year. Lillard still has two seasons (at approximately $62 million) left on his existing contract so the supermax would not kick in until that deal runs its course.

But when it does, he’ll qualify for 35 percent of the cap. Those four seasons are estimated to pay Lillard in the neighborhood of $190 million, and it could be higher, depending on the size of the cap. The team and Lillard have confirmed what Yahoo.com’s Chris Haynes reported earlier this week – that Lillard is going to be offered and will sign the deal when it is allowed to be extended, after July 1.

There are only four players who have received the supermax extension – John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and James Harden. But two other players, in addition to Lillard, became eligible with the announcement of the all-NBA teams: Kemba Walker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

This contract provision was added so that small-market teams would have a financial advantage in holding onto their best players. The team’s salary cap will not be affected until the supermax kicks in, so the Trail Blazers will have more roster flexibility over the next two seasons than they will later.

Lillard is the face of this franchise as much as any Trail Blazers has ever been. He's a leader, too, who keeps the team's culture focused and a man who does more than his share in the community.

There was never a doubt about this extension.

Following death of George Floyd, Terry Stotts shares powerful statement

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Following death of George Floyd, Terry Stotts shares powerful statement

Many professional sports teams along with players and coaches are speaking out about the death of George Floyd and social injustice.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, lost his life last Monday after a white police officer held Floyd down on the ground with his knee to Floyd's neck for several minutes.  

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired. The officer who held Floyd down, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

Since Floyd's death, there have been protests, riots and looting in Minneapolis where the incident occurred and all across the country.

[RELATED]: Nassir Little shares impassioned message, "Change is coming!!"

On Saturday, the Trail Blazers released a joint statement from the organization and its players to express their sympathies to not just Floyd's death, but also that of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, both of whom are black and tragically lost their lives. 

We are devastated and frustrated by the most recent senseless acts of violence in the long continuum of racial injustice in our country. The Trail Blazers organization and players grieve the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who have lost their lives in this increasingly familiar manner. This unprecedented moment has challenged us to not be silent but to use our voices, our time and our energy to be genuine allies to those who endure these injustices directly. Now is the best time to support one another and condemn all prejudice, racism and injustice in our society, country and world. We will continue to utilize our resources to unite and show up in impactful ways.

Monday evening the Trail Blazers tweeted out a statement from Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

Coach Stotts started out by saying:

I am not black. I cannot pretend to know what it means to be black in the United States. I support and appreciate our police. We need our police to protect and serve. I cannot pretend to know what it means to be a police officer in the United States of America. What I do know is that we have endemic racial injustice in our country. We have had racial injustice since the birth of our nation.

Stotts' statement ended with this message:

“I urge EVERYONE to seek out ways we, as a people, can be better. More importantly, I urge EVERYONE to be introspective and seek out ways we can be better individually. 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' It can happen if we want it to happen. We must.” 

Portland Trail Blazers' team chemistry in early 90s was just different

Portland Trail Blazers' team chemistry in early 90s was just different

Rip City has so many fond memories and moments that come to mind when looking back at the 1989-92 Trail Blazers seasons.

The early 90s teams were special on the court, no doubt, but their bond off the court may have been even more special.

“Those were fun times,” Terry Porter reminisced on NBA TV’s Trail Blazers documentary, ‘Rip City Revival.’ "There’s nothing like playing professional sports. You build a bond, a brotherhood, a willingness to protect each other, and you always have that.”

The final two segments of Sunday’s special on the 1989-92 Trail Blazers era focused on what made this Blazers squad so unique: their team chemistry.

As you know the longer you're with a group of guys, the more chemistry you develop, especially when you’re all really good friends and so that was the key to our success. -- Clyde Drexler on ‘Rip City Revival’

[RELATED]: 'Rip City Revival' was a Trail Blazer history lesson that left out a few chapters

During Portland’s 1989–90 campaign, the team posted a 59–23 record. They defeated the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference playoffs, before ultimately losing to the defending-champion Detroit Pistons.

In the 1990–91 season, the Blazers posted a 63–19 record, which was the best in the league and the best in franchise history. Their season ended in the West Finals when the Lakers defeated the Blazers 4–2.

As for the 1991–92 season, Portland repeated as Pacific Division champions as they dominated through the Western Conference playoffs. They met the Chicago Bulls in the Finals, losing 4–2, with the big storyline being Michael Jordan vs. Drexler.

[RELATED]: 'Rip City Revival' vs. 'The Last Dance': A different take on the 1992 NBA Finals

“The whole team, I mean that’s what made this team so unique, is the chemistry, the personnel,” Buck Williams said during the NBA TV special.

Drexler discussed how on the road they would hang out and go to movies together as a team. Porter reiterated that, adding this was a team that enjoyed hanging out with each other and would do so every chance they got. 

“What made it all go was trust, we trusted each other,” Williams added.

They had fun together.

“To have the success we had as a group and the excitement we brought this city and this state -- it is always going to be somewhere special in my heart. We grew up together on and off the court,” Porter said.

As Drexler put it, “That bond will keep you together for a lifetime.” 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

'Rip City Revival' vs. 'The Last Dance': A different take on the 1992 NBA Finals

'Rip City Revival' vs. 'The Last Dance': A different take on the 1992 NBA Finals

Sunday’s ‘Rip City Revival’ on NBA TV provided a few favorable highlights from the Portland Trail Blazers and Clyde Drexler vs. the Chicago Bulls in the 1992 Finals.

Obviously, a documentary aimed at painting the Trail Blazers 1989-92 successful era in a positive light is going to cover certain events differently. The 1992 Finals weren’t portrayed as the complete Michael Jordan one-man domination show that was shown recently on ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”

But, even more than that, it’s what the players had to say then and now that was a bit different on the ‘Rip City Revival’ versus ‘The Last Dance.’

[RELATED]: 'Rip City Revival' was a Trail Blazer history lesson that left out a few chapters

Make no mistake, the Trail Blazers hour-long special that ran on NBA TV provided the story of the 1992 NBA Finals as being the Clyde vs. MJ showdown.

“Big storyline going into that series was Michael and Clyde." Terry Porter said on ‘Rip City Revival.’ "At the time they were one, two in the MVP voting.”

However, instead of having MJ “take offense” to being compared to Drexler like he said in 'The Last Dance,' there were several compliments paid to each other that both players had made back in 1992.  

‘The Rip City Revival' took a look back at a 1992 NBA Finals interview with Drexler and NBC’s Ahmad Rashad.

Drexler told Rashad with a smile on his face, “I think it’s an honor to be compared to Michael Jordan, even though I’m older than him. I think there are many similarities, but I think the most important thing is – both of us play to win.”

While Jordan said in a 1992 interview, “Clyde is somewhat of a mirror of me in a sense. I mean, he’s so versatile. He plays offense. He plays defense. He’s good with assists. He can score. So, you’ve got to respect him in all areas of basketball.” 

Now, fast forward back to the present, when ESPN featured the 1992 Finals as a major storyline in episodes five and six, and Jordan mentioned how he will never forget that so many compared him to Drexler.  

Clyde was a threat. I’m not saying he wasn’t a threat, but me being compared to him, I took offense to that. -- Michael Jordan on Clyde Drexler on The Last Dance

From Game 2 to Game 6 of the 1992 Finals, the Bulls had just a 10-point differential in the series.

So, if Portland could take Game 1 out of the equation where Jordan took right at the Blazers, maybe there wouldn’t have been as much talk from MJ about Drexler nowadays. Maybe? Okay, no, there probably still would be. 

[RELATED]: Terry Porter and Trail Blazers fans share a mutual, everlasting love

In the Trail Blazers special, this is all Drexler had to say about the comparisons:

They were always saying the best two guards in the league – Jordan, Drexler and now they’re in the Finals we’re gonna see which one of them is going to come through.

Buck Williams, who became the last piece to the Trail Blazers puzzle of success in the early 90s, shed some light on the Drexler and MJ battles. 

“Clyde wanted an opportunity to play with Jordan. Clyde may not say that to this day, but being a great player, I know that Clyde wanted to match up with Jordan."

Willliams added, “I heard that Michael really wanted to make a point that, hey, everybody is saying, 'you know Clyde Drexler this, Clyde Drexler that.'

After the first game when MJ dropped 35 points in the first half and the Bulls beat the Blazers 122-89, Bulls big man Horace Grant told the media, “I’ve never seen Michael play like this, shoot the ball like this. It was incredible.”

In the NBA TV special on the Trail Blazers, Buck Williams was the one to speak on MJ’s game one performance, saying, “I think it was a message, the warning shot to the Trail Blazers and to our guards that, ‘hey, man, you guys – you’re out of your league, you can’t stop me.’ At the end of the day, I’ve never seen Jordan shoot the ball like that.”

So, there was no iPad of Drexler listening to what MJ had to say or anything similar to that like we saw in ‘The Last Dance,’ because after nearly 28 years since the 1992 Finals, Drexler declined to dismiss any of his opponents while taping ‘Rip City Revival.’  

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

Sources say NBA likely to go with 22 teams -- what will that look like?

Sources say NBA likely to go with 22 teams -- what will that look like?

The NBA is expected to announce later this week its plans for resuming the season this summer in Orlando, Fla., at Disney World. A part of that announcement should be a glimpse of what that plan will look like and who will play.

According to league sources, a format involving 22 teams has the most support. But the exact look of this has apparently still not been decided.

However, playing the numbers game provides some possibilities. The NBA uses a 16-team playoff structure and a 22-team field would mean six other teams aside from the 16 now sitting in the playoffs at the conclusion of the truncated season, would be included in some sort of expanded postseason scenario.

Figuring out those six teams is an interesting guessing game.

There are five Western Conference teams, Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento and Phoenix, within six games of Memphis, the eighth-place team in the West. There is one team, Washington, within six games of Orlando, the No. 8 team in the East.

That would be a six-team addition to the playoff field, which would, we assume, be involved in some sort of tournament to earn playoff inclusion. The idea of World Cup/group play has not gained much support.

Of course, given that this format includes teams in both conferences, it would be assumed that the eighth-place teams in each conference would also be included in this playoff. You would be competing with those teams for their spots and it would set up an eight-team tournament.

I would also surmise, then, that two teams would advance from this mini-tournament into the usual 16-team NBA playoff. The two winning teams could be split in each conference to be part of a 1-8 playoff or, more likely, just be the final two seeds in a 1-16 playoff format, with no regard for conferences.

I have no idea how the league would stage an eight-team mini-playoff -- whether games played prior to that tourney or regular-season standings, would provide seeding, or if current eighth-place teams would get a bye.

But this format would be innovative, include a lot of fanbases and provide some new teams a chance to jump into the postseason. Got a better idea? I’m open to suggestions.

Certain NBA playoff scenarios could have big implications for small markets

Certain NBA playoff scenarios could have big implications for small markets

We have the place: ESPN’s World Wide of Sports in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

We have the targeted date: July 31.

Now, discussions have begun as to what the league will look like once play resumes.

NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin broke down the four options the NBA is considering:

- 16 teams: Directly to playoffs

- 20 teams: Group/stage play

- 22 teams: Games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for final seed(s)

- 30 teams: 72-game regular season, with play-in tourney

[RELATED]: The four scenarios the NBA is considering to resume play

It sounds like the NBA is leaning towards the 22-team format. The idea is the 22 teams — all teams within six games off the last playoff spot in each conference would play eight regular season games, then the standings at the end of those games would set up the play-in tournament for the eighth seed. After that, the playoffs would start.

EAST: Washington Wizards 

WEST: Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns

But what about the other eight teams?

The 2020-2021 NBA season is projected to start around December 2020, which means those eight remaining teams who will not be playing in Orlando, Florida, won’t play any league games from March 2020-December 2020, nearly nine months of no game action. 

Reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, small market teams are urging the NBA to include entire league once play resumes. Near the end of the NBA's board of governors call on Friday, Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett delivered an impassioned soliloquy on why the league and owners needed to consider the competitive and financial plights of smaller-market teams that could be left out of the season's summer resumption in Orlando, Florida.

"The message was something bigger, reminding people that some teams can't just reopen the doors in nine or 10 months and so easily sell tickets or a sponsorship without having played basketball for that long," one high-level Eastern Conference official on the call told ESPN.

This brings up a couple good points. One, it may cause strain financially on the smaller market teams having no basketball for nine months in terms of ticket sales and sponsorships. Another point is developing younger players. Perhaps offering an offseason camp to those teams who don’t play this Summer in Florida will be in discussion.

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

John Oliver is 100% right about Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers fans

John Oliver is 100% right about Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers fans

If there is one Portland Trail Blazer that every Oregonian loves to the core of their fandom it is Damian Lillard.

Fans know that Lillard has had MVP-caliber seasons throughout his career here in Portland.

The sad thing is that because he is in Portland he doesn't seem to get the attention or notoriety that other athletes get. 

But, who would have thought the host of HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ John Oliver would actually also be in agreement with how Trail Blazers actually feel.

In Sunday's episode of ‘Last Week Tonight’, the episode covered on the subject of Voting by Mail and how important it is to still be able to do it.

Towards the end of the episode, Oliver used Oregon as an example of voter fraud happening by mail being such a rarity in some cases.

Oregon in 2017 had 54 suspected Oregon voter fraud cases, which is 0.002% of the two million voters in Oregon.

Former Secretary Of State for Oregon Phil Keisling was also featured in the episode, stating that “Oregonians don’t care about politics to the level of risking prison time for it”.

Oliver agrees and adds that the only time Oregonians would risk prison time for a vote is for Damian Lillard.

So, is John Oliver, of all people, is actually a fan of Damian Lillard?

I think so!

Oliver also agreed that Lillard should be in the conversation for MVP talk, and let us know that we would be right in doing so by finishing it off with “Dame D.O.L.L.A for life.”

Lillard being featured on ‘Last Week Tonight’ was an unexpected one, but it is finally good to see someone on a national scale understand what it is like to be a Trail Blazer fan and know the pain we go through to get Lillard the recognition he so justly deserves.

Dame D.O.L.L.A. for life.

You can watch the full episode of ‘Last Week Tonight’ here.

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

Terry Porter and Trail Blazers fans share a mutual, everlasting love

Terry Porter and Trail Blazers fans share a mutual, everlasting love

The hour-long Trail Blazers documentary ‘Rip City Revival’, which aired Sunday night on NBA TV, featured interviews from Blazer greats Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter & Buck Williams.  

It was a history lesson, and a time to reflect, while hearing from the players who led the 1989-92 Blazers squad to so much success.

That Portland team made it to three straight Western Conference Finals appearances along with a pair of NBA Finals appearances.

It became the must-see event in the city. – Terry Porter on ‘Rip City Revival’

“You look at the Trail Blazers team -- it’s a bunch of blue collar guys.” Buck Williams added. 

The Trail Blazers selected Drexler as the 14th overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft from the University of Houston. The following year, Portland drafted Jerome Kersey 46th overall from Longwood College. Then came Porter as the Trail Blazers’ No. 24 overall pick in the 1985 draft out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Neither Drexler, nor Porter had very much knowledge when it came to Rip City and they admitted so in the documentary.

Before I got to Portland I didn’t know much about the city. At the time I was 21 years old, had really never left Houston other than to play in games and coming back… I had zero expectations. -- Clyde Drexler on being drafted to Portland

It’s probably safe to say then that the Trail Blazers fan base, and Portland as a city, exceeded Drexler’s expectations.

When the Milwaukee Bucks passed on Porter and drafted Jerry Reynolds instead, even the Bucks told Porter they would draft him, he wasn’t sure what to think. Porter was forced to ponder his future while attending the Bucks Draft Watch party.

Luckily for Porter, he didn’t have to wait long after Milwaukee’s 22nd pick.

“I didn’t have a clue where Portland was, Portland Oregon,” Porter laughed. “I had no idea where it was. And, I’m sure most of the fan base in Portland didn’t know where Stevens Point, Wisconsin was, either. So we were even when it came to that.” 

The love between Porter and Rip City is even, as well.

[RELATED]: 'Rip City Revival' was a Trail Blazer history lesson that left out a few chapters

Both Porter and Drexler emphasized how special and supportive this Trail Blazers group was as a team. Porter shared his thoughts on how extraordinary Trail Blazers fans were back then, especially during the playoffs. 

“When we were going through our playoff run when you came in the city, buildings in the city had ‘Rip City’ or ‘Go Blazers’ on the windows. People wearing gear all the time,” Porter said.

“It was just a vibe, an excitement about the city.”

Now as so much time has passed, wanting to win for the fans weighs heavy on Porter's mind.

When you have a fan base like we had during that three or four year stretch, you wanted to reward them, you wanted to reward them so badly for all their hard work and their support -- give them something that they could cling to and have a championship. There’s nothing like that for a city. -- Terry Porter

As Buck Williams put it, “one piece is missing.”

That has always been one of the biggest takeaways from this Trail Blazers era – there was no Championship.

However, unlike other NBA fans around the country, Trail Blazers fans always have and always will celebrate this memorable squad.  

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

 

'Rip City Revival' was a Trail Blazer history lesson that left out a few chapters

'Rip City Revival' was a Trail Blazer history lesson that left out a few chapters

NBA-TV presented its Trail Blazer documentary Sunday night. It was called “Rip City Revival” and it certainly wasn’t a “Rip City Revelation.”

For people new to this team, fans who weren’t around back in the early 1990s when Portland made its two runs to the Finals, this was a cursory history lesson.

For those who were around, or the ones looking for something new or a little deeper, it was incomplete. 

Nothing new. No revelations, no scoops and no real insight. No controversy, either.

And there was no mention of the One True Fact of that team’s three-year run: The 1991 team that lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals was without question the best of those three Trail Blazer teams.

That team had dominated the NBA during the regular season, beaten the Chicago Bulls in both games between the teams that season.

But there was a stumble in the first round, Portland needing five games to beat Seattle in a best-of-five series that shook the team’s confidence. And then the Lakers rocked them in the first game of the conference finals, stealing the homecourt advantage.

The Bulls, in Jordan’s first trip to the Finals, had little trouble with the Lakers, but I believe the Trail Blazers would have won that series.

But they couldn’t get there.

I would like to have seen at least a little time spent talking about Rick Adelman and his coaching staff, who designed an offense that made the most of the team’s talent and coached one of the most overachieving groups I’ve ever covered. They also fostered the culture that allowed those teams to grow so close-knit. It was a very joyful team -- a pleasure to be around.

Geoff Petrie's name wasn't even mentioned, but he played a role as general manager in putting the team together, just as he did a few years later with Adelman in Sacramento.

I will say this, though, at least the documentary provided a few favorable clips of Portland and Clyde Drexler vs. the Bulls in the 1992 Finals, rather than the total Michael Jordan one-man wrecking crew video shown recently on ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”

And the tribute to Drazen Petrovic, Kevin Duckworth and Jerome Kersey was very worthwhile.

All in all, it told a story -- not the whole story, but provided a nice picture of a wonderful team with some very popular players who have their own special place in the team’s history.

Nassir Little shares impassioned message, "Change is coming!!"

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USA Today Images

Nassir Little shares impassioned message, "Change is coming!!"

The death of George Floyd has impacted many aspects of life and the NBA is no different.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, lost his life Monday after a white police officer held Floyd down on the ground with his knee to Floyd's neck for several minutes.  

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired.  The officer who held Floyd down, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

Since Floyd's death, there have been protests, riots and looting in Minneapolis where the incident occurred and all across the country.

On Saturday, the Trail Blazers released a joint statement from the organization and its players to express their sympathies to not just Floyd's death, but that of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, both of whom are black and tragically lost their lives recently.

We are devastated and frustrated by the most recent senseless acts of violence in the long continuum of racial injustice in our country. The Trail Blazers organization and players grieve the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who have lost their lives in this increasingly familiar manner. This unprecedented moment has challenged us to not be silent but to use our voices, our time and our energy to be genuine allies to those who endure these injustices directly. Now is the best time to support one another and condemn all prejudice, racism and injustice in our society, country and world. We will continue to utilize our resources to unite and show up in impactful ways.

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little took to Twitter on Sunday to share his thoughts, announcing that, ‘change is coming!!’

Little, who was the No. 25 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, also tweeted out ‘what it feels like being black in America.’

Portland’s rookie wasn’t just tweeting his own thoughts, but he was also very active sharing others tweets as well.

Just as the Trail Blazers said, now is the best time to support one another and condemn all prejudice, racism and injustice in our society, country and world.