Damian Lillard’s new contract with the Trail Blazers is a point of pride for the six-time All Star who has spent his entire career in Portland.
”I don’t think that you earn something like this just by going out there and scoring a bunch of points,” he said. ”Something that’s missing in our league is character, and the fight and the passion and pride about, you know, not just the name on the back, but the name on the front, and how you impact the people that you come in contact with.”
Lillard agreed to a two-year extension through the 2026-27 season. A person with knowledge of the negotiations said the deal is worth $225 million.
Lillard formally signed the extension with his son on his lap and his grandmother watching by phone from Oakland. He spoke at a news conference Saturday evening at the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas.
Lillard will make about $59 million in 2025-26, then about $63 million the next year, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the extension has not been announced.
He’ll make about $137 million over the next three seasons, before the extension begins.
”There are two kinds of teams: teams that are looking for superstars and teams that are looking for one. We’re lucky enough to have one,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. ”One who wants to be here.”
Lillard was limited to 29 games this past season because of a core injury that required surgery. The Blazers finished 27-55, their worst record since 2005-06.
While Lillard was sidelined, the team cleaned house, pulling off a number of trades before the February deadline – including sending backcourt teammate CJ McCollum to New Orleans – that got the Blazers under the luxury tax and freed up cap space.
The Blazers then made a series of offseason moves to build around Lillard. Portland acquired Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons and signed free agent Gary Payton II, who was key to Golden State’s championship run.
Lillard played with Grant on the gold medal-winning U.S. team at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. Grant averaged 19.2 points in 47 games last season with the Pistons.
Lillard said he believes the team is headed in the right direction.
”I’m as anxious as I’ve ever been to get out there and make something happen,” he said. ”I’m in a great space mentally and physically. I’m gonna come into this season comfortable and ready to do me, and do me at the highest level.”
Lillard, who turns 32 on July 15, said that in addition to healing his body over the past several months, he also got a mental break that he believes will make his a better player going forward.
”In my entire career, I haven’t been injured. I’ve had one injury that put me out, and that was when I was in college and I broke my foot. And that was the last time that I got to step away,” he said. ”I didn’t recreate myself, I just charged back up and I came back and I was better than I had ever been.”
He has averaged 24.6 points in his career. He was selected as a member of the league’s top 75 players as part of the NBA’s 75th anniversary celebration this past season.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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