When you play a game like basketball, devote your life to it in order to become the best of the best, take the risks of possibly getting hurt at an early point in your career, and thankfully miss the window of your life turning out completely different -- you're entitled to a payday. But at what cost?
New contracts in the mix
Hearing that Damian Lillard has signed a two-year extension that ensures he will make $63 million in 2027 can be a little freighting to some.
That should be considered admirable when James Harden has potentially taken a $15 million pay cut to help the team sign more talent.
Does money impact legacy?
Winning is all that matters if you're trying to construct an immortal legacy. That goes for all sports. But when looking at Portland, one must point out that their chances of winning a championship when someone is making $63 million in one season -- that someone is a fringe top 10 player in a small market team -- are not great.
The Blazers' rebuild doesn't look to be outstanding by any measure -- Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simmons are not turning any heads soon. So you have to ask yourself - is it actually worth paying a guy who, at 37-year-old, will likely be one of the three highest-paid players in the game?
I get it; Portland does not come across these gems often. You have to compete through the draft if you're from Portland. Thankfully, Lillard has gone his whole career saying he will ride and die for Portland. But at what cost?
The portland strategy is simple. It's a superstar-driven league. You need not one but two superstars to compete. So it's not a question of are you more likely to sign a marquee free agent with Damian Lillard’s huge contract than without it -- it's are you more likely to sign a marquee free agent with Lillard's huge contract or sign two big names without Lillard as a pitch chip?
But it's ironic that although we look at Lillard as this loyal, one-team guy, and in reverse, we look at Harden as this unpredictable flakey guy who forced himself out of two teams in 13 months, only one of them is taking the pay cut.
That pay cut helped the team sign P.J Tucker and put them one step further to compete.
It's honorable. Can we say the same thing about Dame though, despite his years-long loyalty to the city of Portland?