Does Damian Lillard’s Endorsement Deal Hinder Trail Blazers Front Office?

    Biofreeze has entered the NBA. The company has agreed to a multi-year endorsement deal with Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard, according to Stadium NBA

    September 19, 2018

    Biofreeze has entered the NBA.

    The company has agreed to a multi-year endorsement deal with Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard, according to Stadium NBA Insider Shams Charania. The agreement is significant because Biofreeze will also be a sponsor represented on Portland’s jerseys with a company patch, according to Charania. This agreement may seem minor, but it could represent a potentially dangerous crossover between business and basketball.

    Lillard and the Trail Blazers entering into this agreement might be a move towards keeping the star guard in Portland even though Lillard’s contract isn’t up for two more seasons after 2018-19. Lillard is making near max money already, so would an endorsement deal really sweeten the pot? The Blazers will almost certainly offer the supermax extension to Lillard if it means keeping him Portland, but this endorsement deal could cloud the team’s front office decisions.

    Here’s why.

    There have been rumblings of Portland breaking up the Lillard-C.J. McCollum backcourt pairing if the team cannot get past its playoff woes. Portland has made the playoffs five straight years, but the last two trips ended in first-round sweeps. Lillard and McCollum have been a dynamic scoring duo for the Blazers, but Portland’s lack of financial flexibility makes trading one of the duo the most immediate path towards upgrading the rest of the roster.

    Lillard and McCollum are a league-average defensive pairing, with each sporting a 110 career defensive rating. Trading one of the two could allow Portland to strengthen its backcourt defensively while adding playmakers on the wing and in the post.

    This endorsement deal with Biofreeze puts the Trail Blazers and basketball in a dangerous hypothetical scenario. Let’s say Portland flames out in the postseason, or — even worse — fails to make the playoffs entirely in a loaded Western Conference this season. If their front office decides trading either Lillard and McCollum is the best way to move forward, who goes? Lillard is in a business agreement with one of the team’s sponsors, which affects all levels of organizational operations. Would Biofreeze be happy to see their star athlete shipped away from the organization they’re repping?

    So that’s it — McCollum would be the one to go.

    But that presents another scenario: would Portland get a better return for Lillard or McCollum? Would the Trail Blazers sacrifice their on-court product in a trade scenario due to a sponsorship agreement? If a front office doesn’t make the right basketball decision because of a sponsorship agreement, would it open the door for other companies to have some control over team operations?

    These questions won’t be answered until the 2018-19 season plays itself out. Lillard and the Blazers have hitched their wagons to each other with this Biofreeze agreement. Portland should be a playoff contender in the Western Conference, but another first-round exit or missing out on postseason play entirely could make things in the Rose City not so rosy.

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