The Blazers have exercised their team option on the fourth year of Damian Lillard‘s rookie scale contract, the team announced. Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer first reported the move (Twitter link). Lillard’s salary of $4.236MM for the 2015/16 season is locked in as a result, and it’s largely a perfunctory transaction, since it would have been shocking if Portland had let go of the budding star. The team will wait until the October 31st deadline draws near to decide on its other rookie scale options, for Thomas Robinson, C.J. McCollum and Meyers Leonard, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian (Twitter links).
The 24-year-old Lillard, who won the Rookie of the Year award in 2013, has quickly established himself as one of the league’s best point guards. He made his first All-Star Game and was on the All-NBA Third Team last season. His buzzer-beater at the end of the sixth game of Portland’s first-round series against the Rockets last spring lifted the Blazers to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2000.
Portland had little more than $13MM in commitments for 2015/16 before picking up Lillard’s option. That leaves GM Neil Olshey with plenty of flexibility to secure soon-to-be free agent LaMarcus Aldridge to a new long-term deal and build around the Aldridge-Lillard core.