Mar 24, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT
Damian Lillard already had locked up Rookie of the Year honors with his stellar play the first half of the season, and that was long before a deadline deal got him some backcourt help in the form of Eric Maynor, who the team acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Since Maynor’s arrival, Lillard’s numbers have been on the rise, and his play has been even more impressive.
Lillard has seen solid increases in scoring, field goal percentage, and three-point shooting percentage, all because of Maynor’s presence which frees up Lillard from some of the ball-handling responsibilities, and forces the defense to play him straight up instead of constantly trapping him on the perimeter.
It would seem as though Maynor is an excellent fit with Lillard, and the Blazers could make Maynor a qualifying offer this summer in order to retain a right to match any offer he might receive in restricted free agency.
But that isn’t likely to happen, given the relatively small amount of cap space the Blazers have to spend this summer.
Maynor’s qualifying offer is $3.4 million, with a hefty $5.85 million cap hold that would eat a substantial amount of the Blazers’ offseason spending money.
Early reviews suggest that the Blazers and Maynor are a good match. But it seems unlikely the team would mortgage so much of its offseason spending power on a backup point guard. It seems more likely the Blazers will allow Maynor to become an unrestricted free agent and pursue him with the rest of the NBA. It’s the same move the Blazers made last offseason with JJ Hickson and he ended up returning.
Just because it worked with Hickson doesn’t mean it would be the same for the team’s negotiations with Maynor.
However, the situation Maynor has found himself in might be a better match for him than it would be elsewhere — as long as the dollar amount of a new contract in Portland would be similar to the offer he might receive from others.