Restricted free agent Anfernee Simons will re-sign with the Portland Trail Blazers on a four-year, $100 million contract, agent Bill Duffy told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday. Simons, 23, was the No. 24 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and he is coming off a breakout season.
In 2021-22, his fourth year with the Blazers, Simons averaged 17.3 points and 3.9 assists in 29.5 minutes and made 44.3 percent of his 3-pointers. In his 30 starts, he averaged 22 points and 5.5 assists in 34.3 minutes, with a 60.0 percent true shooting percentage. He didn't get any first-place votes for Most Improved Player, but he was genuinely one of the most improved players in the league. His numbers were not merely a product of getting more minutes; he took on a larger offensive role than ever before and became more efficient than he was previously, despite being surrounded by subpar talent.
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When Portland traded CJ McCollum before February's trade deadline, it did so knowing that Simons was waiting in the wings. This contract means that he and Damian Lillard will be the Blazers' backcourt for the foreseeable future. At midnight, Lillard will be eligible to sign a two-year extension worth more than $100 million, and he's widely expected to do that.
It's worth noting that Lillard and Simons did not start a single game together last season -- by the time Portland made the McCollum trade, Lillard was already done for the year. This pairing, however, works for the same reasons that the Lillard-McCollum one did: They complement each other offensively because they're both off-ball threats, and Simons can run the second unit when Lillard goes to the bench.
If there's an issue here, it's that the Lillard-Simons pairing also comes with the same defensive limitations, at least for now. Portland must hope that, in time, Simons, who has a 6-foot-9 wingspan, will develop into a plus defender. It must also hope that it will be able to surround Lillard and Simons with big, athletic, versatile players. In this respect, Jerami Grant is a .
The Blazers swung big when they drafted Shaedon Sharpe with the No. 7 pick last week. The next item on their agenda might be re-signing unrestricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic -- earlier this week, Marc Stein reported that the center is expected to reach an agreement with Portland shortly after free agency begins.