Report: Blazers Expected to Sign Norman Powell to New Contract amid Lillard Rumors

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 20, 2021

PORTLAND, OR - JUNE 3: Damian Lillard #0 and Norman Powell #24 of the Portland Trail share a conversation during the game against the Denver Nuggets on June 3, 2021 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly expected to prioritize retaining Norman Powell in free agency this summer.

John Hollinger of The Athletic reported it's "strongly suspected" the Blazers would even wade into the luxury tax to ensure they can re-sign Powell after acquiring him via trade at the deadline. 

Powell averaged a career-high 18.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 2020-21, splitting his time with the Toronto Raptors and Blazers. He was a full-time starter for the first time in his career after starting 89 games his first five NBA seasons.

The Blazers gave up a young shooter in Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood as part of the trade for Powell, which only creates further need to keep him around as more than a half-season rental. Trent is a 22-year-old who is hitting restricted free agency this offseason. The Blazers likely could have kept him at half the price that Powell, an unrestricted free agent, will command.

Portland also has to contend with the looming specter of Damian Lillard's unhappiness with the franchise's direction. While it doesn't appear Lillard has any plans of immediately requesting a trade, the clock is quickly running down. Odds are if the Blazers do not make a significant improvement this offseason, that request is coming before the regular season or next summer.

Not re-signing Powell simply to avoid the luxury tax is not a move the Blazers can afford at this juncture. Powell may also factor in if the Blazers explore trading CJ McCollum this offseason.