Norman Powell was amidst the best season of his career when the Toronto Raptors traded the scoring guard to the Portland Trail Blazers at the deadline.
The 28-year-old was set to hit unrestricted free agency during the 2021 offseason and after averaging career-highs of 19.6 points per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 43.9 percent from 3-point range to that point, it was assumed Powell would be in line for a lucrative deal.
The question was: would the deal come from the Trail Blazers or a different franchise?
Powell got what he deserved, earning a five-year, $90 million deal to stay in Portland.
UNDERSTAND THE GRIND‼️‼️.. LETS RUN IT BACK 🌹CITY- norman powell (@npowell2404) August 3, 2021
The Blazers came up well short of their goals in 2021, falling in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to a shorthanded Denver Nuggets squad, their fourth first-round exit in five seasons. With Powell under contract until 2026 and the star backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum locked up until 2025 and 2024, respectively, the Blazers have formed a trio of prolific scorers to try and make a deeper playoff push.
At Media Day on Monday, Powell detailed the respect he felt from the front office and star duo, pursuing him to stay and Portland to try and be a part of something special.
"Neil (Olshey) and Chauncey (Billups) were very forward with how they felt about me," Powell stated, according to Bleacher Report's Sean Highkin.
"Dame and CJ both reached out to me before free agency started. Dame texted me and told me he wanted me back."
Following the first-round exit, there was some expectation that Lillard may want out of Portland. The six-time All-Star later put those rumours to bed during his run at a Gold Medal with Team USA, and the recruiting process with Powell suggests he has all intentions of taking another shot at a run with the Blazers.
With a new head coach in Billups, the re-signing of Powell and other offseason deals and acquistions such as Cody Zeller, Larry Nance Jr., Tony Snell and Ben McLemore, the Trail Blazers will have their work cut out for them as they try and make a playoff push in the grueling Western Conference.
Powell averaged 17.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from 3 in 27 regular season games with Portland last season, and he also posted 17.0 points on .500/.385/.889 shooting splits in six playoff games.
He'll have to improve upon those averages if he's going to be the third scoring option on a team with title aspirations.
Coming off of a favourable contract, the pressure will be on Powell to perform in his first full season with the Blazers.
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