Steve Dykes/Associated Press
Portland Trail Blazers swingman Norman Powell plans to decline his $11.6 million player option for the 2021-22 NBA season to become an unrestricted free agent.
Powell told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports he plans to test the open market rather than opting in.
Haynes noted that Powell is expected to have “multiple suitors” in free agency, with the Blazers planning to make him a “top priority.”
Powell averaged 17.0 points on 44.3 percent shooting and 3.3 rebounds per game for a Blazers team that finished 42-30 and finished sixth in the Western Conference. Portland fell to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.
The ex-UCLA Bruin ended the year as the Blazers’ third-leading scorer behind the All-Star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He started in all 27 of his games with the Blazers, moving to a small forward role with Lillard and McCollum on the court together.
The 27-year-old spent the first five-plus years of his career with the Toronto Raptors, winning the NBA title with the franchise in 2019. He was a bench player for much of the first four years of his career, never averaging more than 19 minutes per game.
However, he broke out in 2019-20, averaging 16.0 points on a career-high 49.5 percent shooting clip and 3.7 rebounds. He started 26 of his 52 games.
Powell started his 2020-21 season off the Raptor bench but entered the starting lineup for good on Jan. 22. He averaged 23.5 points per game in Toronto’s starting five.
But the floundering Raptors, who were just 18-26 at the trade deadline, decided to deal Powell to Portland.
The Raptors traded him to the Trail Blazers on March 25 in exchange for Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr. to ensure they could get players for Powell instead of potentially losing him for nothing in free agency.
That’s where Powell finds himself now as he looks set to cash in on his stellar two-year stretch.