Point guard Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers have reached an agreement on a five-year max extension worth more than $120 million, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. The deal, which is being signed a year early, will go into effect starting in 2016-17 and keep Lillard with the team through the 2020-21 season. The extension is expected to be fall into the $125 million to $129 million range, according to Spears.
"I play the game out of love and it's inspiring to be rewarded for doing things the right way and being a high character person," Lillard told Yahoo Sports. "It's also comforting knowing that none of what I've accomplished has been handed to me."
Lillard, 24, became Portland's top priority once the team discovered that its other All-Star, LaMarcus Aldridge, plans to leave as a free agent this summer. Lillard is still under contract for next season on a $5.7 million team option -- the last year of his rookie contract -- but would've been eligible to hit restricted free agency in a year, something the Blazers unsurprisingly wanted to avoid.
Instead of waiting to let Lillard's situation play out more, he's getting the full five-year maximum extension from the team a year before it'll even go into effect. It's more than anyone else could've paid him on an offer sheet next summer, but shows the level of commitment that the Blazers have to their franchise point guard.
After a breakout sophomore season in 2013-14, Lillard continued his ascent by leading Portland to a second straight 50-win season in 2014-15. He averaged 21 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 82 games. The point guard hasn't missed a game yet as a pro, starting all 246 possible games in three seasons. A two-time All-Star, Lillard was also named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2015.