Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Arron Afflalo will reportedly opt out of the final year of his deal, worth $7.7 million, and become an unrestricted free agent. His potential departure is one more headache for a club already dealing with the prospect of losing franchise player LaMarcus Aldridge to free agency.
The 29-year-old Afflalo was acquired from the Denver Nuggets for an assortment of seldom-used players -- such as Thomas Robinson, Victor Claver and Will Barton -- plus a protected future first-round pick, to supposedly bolster a then-challenged Blazers bench. Before the new composition could jell, Wesley Matthews went down with an Achilles tear and was sidelined for the rest of the year.
Now the team will have to decide if it is willing to pay a higher salary to Afflalo, a former Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic wingman who is leaning toward exercising his player option.
Per sources, G Arron Afflalo expected to opt out of '15-'16 ($7.75M) to become UFA. Obv key for Portland 2 re-sign w/Wes Matthews rehabbing.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 22, 2015
The absence of Matthews and the uncertainty of his recovery schedule put the Blazers in a bind. With the salary cap expected to skyrocket after next season, there is some logic to keeping Afflalo for a reasonable price, say in the range of $10 million to $12 million per season. However, the complexities of Aldridge’s impending free agency still overshadow any moves the team will make next.
With around $31 million in committed salary for the 2015-16 (assuming Afflalo opts out), the Blazers still have the money to convince Aldridge to stay. The team will also have to take care of Matthews, who is a free agent as well -- though less attractive to other clubs because of his injury.
Portland also has C.J. McCollum, who stepped up well in the first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the No. 23 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York. Nevertheless, the team never fully experienced playing Nicolas Batum, Matthews, and Afflalo in the post-season.
The story of the Blazers’ summer will begin and end with Aldridge, who is the priority of the front office. Deciding whether to keep Afflalo to flank the versatile big man is an additional piece to the puzzle.