Portland Trail Blazers: Who should be part of the long-term core?

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

1. Damian Lillard

When it is all said and done, Damian Lillard will go done as one of the greatest Portland Trail Blazers of all-time. He signed a five-year extension back in 2015, and the deal included no player option to leave early. He now has two more years left on that deal and will be 30 when his contract is done, but the team is already looking to lock him up with a four-year super-max extension.

Lillard has still has plenty of good basketball to play, and his basketball IQ, shooting and playmaking ability will always be useful even as he ages. There’s a chance he could play until he is 35-37.

Even though he has two years left on his deal, Lillard will be in line for the super-max extension this offseason that would most likely keep him in Rip City for the rest of his career. The super-max would be a four-year, $191 million deal, adding onto his two years left worth $60 million for a grand total of $250 million over six years. That would be a big commitment by both sides.

It was reported earlier in the year by ESPN Insider Brian Windhorst that Lillard would be interested in the super-max contract and is “comfortable with his commitment to the Blazers.” If that is the case, the franchise should not hesitate to keep its superstar long-term. This is an organization that has struggled to get stars to play in this city and should not let one just walk out the door.

Ever since LaMarcus Aldridge left, Lillard has been the face of this franchise and become absolutely beloved and cherished by the fanbase. If he were to leave Portland, it would take the city and the team a long time to recover from losing Dame Time. He loves the city and it loves him back, so a long-term commitment seems like a perfect match. Even if he starts to go downhill in his playing career, he will be at the respect and love level like Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki were when they retired.

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Lillard has finally started to earn some respect around the entire league, and after leading this team to the Western Conference Finals, he has established himself as one of the top 3-point guards in the league. The Blazers should look to continue to build around him and hope they can make another deep run for that NBA championship to completely solidify his career.