September 2, 2021

Larry Nance Jr. Is Vital to Damian Lillard’s Future with Trail Blazers

Through the first month of the offseason, the Portland Trail Blazers remained relatively quiet.

The lack of significant movement led to the rumor mill growing louder concerning star point guard Damian Lillard’s long-term future. The six-time All-Star has continued to shoot down the chatter by voicing his unwavering commitment to the franchise. However, it sounds like it might be inevitable that Dame Time takes his talents to another team. Perhaps, one that can contend for an NBA title.

Portland managed to re-sign Norman Powell to a five-year, $90 million deal while inking Ben McLemore, Tony Snell, and Cody Zeller to one-year deals. 

Outside of Powell, these moves do nothing but fill out the bench. The Blazers’ front office finally moved to add another piece to the puzzle by acquiring veteran big man Larry Nance Jr. in a three-team trade last Friday. 

The move brings aboard a versatile big man who has excelled as a prominent factor with his defending, rebounding, and can stretch the floor beyond the arc. He’s coming off a productive campaign, averaging 9.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while shooting 47.1% from the floor and 36.0% from beyond the arc.

"Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will love playing with Larry,” said Nance’s agent Mark Bartelstein.

Nance isn’t an elite talent, but his arrival opens the door to the opportunity to play a meaningful role with a playoff-contending team. The 28-year-old can become a bigger offensive factor while his defensive versatility is a welcoming sight for a team that has struggled mightily on that end of the floor in recent years. 

In other words, there is plenty of potential for Nance to expand his wings to become a bigger factor on the floor than he has been up to his point in his career. He could also play a massive role in helping keep Lillard satisfied in remaining with the Blazers for the long haul.

It’s going to take much more than Nance to help push Portland toward serious NBA title contention, but it certainly helps. Lillard is the face of the franchise and losing him would be a gut punch to the team’s future. 

The star point guard may not be actively pushing his way out of Portland, but if the end result remains in the same with another early playoff exit, things could rapidly change. The clock is ticking on the Blazers to get it right to keep their franchise cornerstone talent. 

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