The Portland Trail Blazers Nasser picked Little with the 24th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after a North Carolina producer was said to have slipped onto everyone’s board. Since then, he’s played 138 (or 65 percent) of his 228 potential matches, largely due to a random string of injuries, hampering what is still considered a rare sporting talent.
But despite his obstacles, the 22-year-old still manages to show very clear glimpses of what a player he could be. While his career averages of 5.8 points on 31 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.7 assists doesn’t sound very impressive, he has shown his ability to take on serious scoring responsibilities and crucial defensive tasks.
I think everyone remembers Little’s performance in losing the way to Milwaukee Bucks In February 2021, he scored 30 points in three point rebounds with 71 percent, 6 rebounds, 1 pass, 1 steal and 2 blocks. In January, he appeared against Atlanta Hawks Moda’s center with Blazer on the back performs 22 points, recording 80 percent from three, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and one steal. In defense, he remarkably and impressively suppressed Chicago Bulls The star DeMar DeRozan is in the dying stages of a The victory of the return match at the Blazers Stadium last November.
Fit for Little, he’s currently the only real little striker on the Blazers roster, standing somewhere between 6’6 and 6’7 and said to be bulkier than we’ve seen in previous years. The Blazers seem to have very few options to start Little on all three, hoping his body will be able to withstand the rigors of an extended workload through an entire NBA season. Too big a request for someone who was barely able to stay in the field, and therefore in the spin.
If Little is able to pull an entire season together this season, he goes to free agency restricted to 2023 on demand, if only because of the fact that he plays a necessary position in the modern NBA. Obviously, the Blazers could match any bid being made for the winger, but those numbers could be north of anything they would be willing to pay in order to continue building this list around Damian Lillard.
Alternatively, Little could succumb once again to injury this season, finding his services less attractive and thus lowering his price. If he could show some consistency, the Blazers would no doubt like to keep him, but another season of rehab could jeopardize his future chances in the NBA.
A simple extension discussion was raised last week by Bleacher Jake Fisher reported last week. The question currently is whether the Blazers and Little’s agent Adam Pensack can reach an agreement that benefits both sides. Certainly, securing the Little’s long-term financial security at an affordable price for the Blazers’ present and future would be great for the franchise.
Easier said than done.
Little needs to know he’s getting paid for the production he can deliver while the Blazers need to protect themselves from any long-term injuries.
Four years, with a team option or a partial/unsecured four in, is probably the best place to start. This gives Blazers a chance to opt out early or provide a local business partner if the Little is transferred, regardless of whether they are able to play.
For Little to agree to a deal, you have to imagine that he takes in no less than $10 million a year and, realistically, no less than $12 million. “Why?” I hear you ask. Well, while injury and illness have weakened his contribution, his upside and those little glimpses of contribution discussed above, still make him a tempting option.
We also need to remind ourselves that the cap will rise over the next few years, so the contract at roughly $12.5 million may be below mid-level exceptions in the future. If Little was able to keep fit, he would almost certainly outgrow it, and if not, his salary would still be reasonable in the trades moving forward.
So let’s say if a deal goes through in four years, it will be $50 million in scope, with the team option in the final year.
Providing poison pills
Just as a reminder, this requirement arises if a team extends a player’s junior meter contract, and then trades in with it before the extension takes effect. The value received for a player for the receiving team is his average salary in the current year and the annual salary in each year of his extension. On the contrary, his current team simply treats his current year salary as the outgoing figure for matching purposes.
So if the Blazers Little extend this summer, the ruling will apply if it is dealt with by next year’s trade deadline. This means that any deadline deal Little is involved in will see the Blazers send his current salary at $4.1 million. However, the team receiving it will receive just under $11 million — assuming a four-year, $50 million extension.
This is something General Manager Joe Cronin will undoubtedly recognize as he continues to build this team throughout the year and into February.
The benefits of the Little extension are very clear. The Blazers lock up a potential starting level player who, if appropriate, will outgrow the contract, and who will likely remain below the middle level exception before it expires.
Little benefit as well. For a youngster who has yet to enjoy consistent time on the court, at least $37.5 million in guaranteed money seems very tempting, especially if he spends the next three years in the doctor’s hands and on the bench. If Little outbids the deal, he’ll be able to negotiate a new, more lucrative extension or contract at the age of 25 or 26, just as he enters his prime.
The Blazers weren’t given much to believe Little could play an entire season. They’ve also got the services of Shaedon Sharpe, a youngster who we hope – look, I’m not committing to anything – will be able to play a similar position and at a higher level.
Some would say, it wouldn’t be particularly wise for a franchise to stick to two young wings for four to five years when neither of them has shown any real ability to contribute at the level the team needs. A little may never be healthy, and while $12.5 million a year isn’t ugly, it restricts the Blazers significantly if he isn’t already playing.
There’s a drawback to Little too. As discussed above, if he can stay healthy and reach the potential we all hoped he’d reach, not only would he top his bargain, but the Blazers would survive the heist as much as possible. Sure, he could renegotiate in a few years, but the 2022-23 outbreak prevents him from earning the equivalent of his contribution for a while.
I don’t know what is discussed between the representation of the Blazers and Littles, but you have to imagine that all of the above will influence the final decision. At the moment, Little is almost certain to start small for the Blazers, simply because he is the only real young striker on the list.
If Little wants to bet on himself, he might get a lot of interest and big money in July 2023. But if his body fails again, the futures may be minimal, or maybe even non-existent. Sure, the latter is probably an exaggeration but it might be reason enough to put pen to paper this summer.