NBA free agency: Blazers’ Norman Powell to decline player option, become unrestricted free agent, per report
Portland Trail Blazers guard Norman Powell plans to test the free agency market over the offseason. Powell will decline his $11.6 million player option for the 2021-22 season in favor of unrestricted free agency, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. However, re-signing him will be a priority for the Blazers, per Haynes.
The Blazers traded Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood to acquire Powell, 28, from the Toronto Raptors in March, and Powell went on to play — and start — 27 regular-season games for Portland. During those games, he averaged 17 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and and 1.3 steals in 34.4 minutes of action per performance. He also started in all six of Portland’s playoff games.
As a wing player capable of playing some solid perimeter defense and also spacing the floor with his shot on the other end, Powell is sure to have several suitors over the offseason. However, the Blazers didn’t trade Trent and Hood just for a rental. “We made the Norman Powell trade hoping that he’d be a long-term part of our future,” Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey stated last month. Still, virtually every contending team could use a player of Powell’s ilk, so the Blazers will likely have no shortage of competition for his services.
The Blazers are in a tough spot given the uncertainty surrounding Damian Lillard’s future with the franchise, but trying to bring back Powell seems like a no-brainer. He’s a piece who can help contribute to winning in the present, which is obviously important to Lillard. Plus, he’ll have no shortage of trade value on a new contract if the Blazers ultimately move on from Lillard and undertake a rebuild. Like Olshey said, the Blazers didn’t trade two productive players in Trent and Hood just to get Powell for half of a season, so it seems likely that Portland will work hard to bring him back.