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Portland Trail Blazers drop $160 million to retain key player in NBA free agency

General manager Joe Cronin and the Portland Trail Blazers are making it perfectly clear they plan on committing to build a contender around star guard Damian Lillard.

Despite exhausting the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft on Scoot Henderson, Portland was never really going to go into full-scale rebuild mode.

They made that perfectly clear during the early moments of NBA free agency by re-signing star forward Jerami Grant. According to Sham Charania of The Athletic, Grant has received a five-year contract worth a whopping $160 million to return to the Pacific Northwest.

To be clear. This is a whole heck of a lot of cash for Portland to pay out to a 29-year-old veteran who has not earned an All-Star appearance in nine NBA seasons. With that said, Grant has proven over the past several years that he can be a core player.

Related: Portland Trail Blazers GM gives definitive answer on potential Damian Lillard trade

Jerami Grant stats (2022-23): 20.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 48% shooting, 40% 3-point

Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that 40% three-point mark in Grants first season with the Portland Trail Blazers that stands out. Prior to last season, the former second-round pick out of Syracuse shot 35% from distance.

By making this move now, Portland has made it clear that there’s no intention of trading Lillard. He met with the Blazers’ brass last week to acquire a firm understanding of the plan moving forward. If the Blazers were going into rebuild mode, they wouldn’t have handed out $160 million to a player set to enter his Age-30 season.