The Portland Trail Blazers took an important step to ensuring Anfernee Simons remains with the team for the 2022-23 campaign.
With this move, Portland will have the right to match any offer Simons receives from another team as a restricted free agent. Had the Trail Blazers chosen not to extend the qualifying offer, he would have been an unrestricted free agent available to the open market.
While players generally do not accept the qualifying offer outright, Simons has the option of agreeing to the one-year price and playing under it in Portland for 2022-23.
The Trail Blazers and Simons did not come to terms on a contract extension ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, with Jason Quick of The Athletic reporting the team wanted to see more consistency from the young playmaker. The 6'3" guard, who bypassed college, also believed he could improve his value under head coach Chauncey Billups.
The 2018 first-round pick likely did exactly that with career highs nearly across the board.
He was a secondary contributor during his first three seasons but in 2021-22 shot 40.5 percent from deep and averaged 17.3 points, 3.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 0.5 steals in 29.5 minutes per game. He assumed a larger role with Damian Lillard dealing with injury concerns and CJ McCollum being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, revealing his potential.
Simons said he wanted to remain in Portland in February, per Ben Pickman of Sports Illustrated, so it wouldn't be surprising if he and the team agreed to a deal this offseason.
There is plenty to like from the Trail Blazers perspective since he will be just 23 years old throughout the 2022-23 season and can be the secondary playmaker in the backcourt alongside Lillard.
Simons' ability to shoot from the outside also plays well in space when the six-time All-Star draws additional defensive attention, meaning his upward trajectory could continue even with a healthy Lillard handling the ball.
Even the act of extending the qualifying offer suggests Portland believes there is a role for him in 2022-23.