Zach Lowe ran down the list of free agency winners and losers on Grantland,com today. To nobody's surprise, the San Antonio Spurs were declared a winner. Lowe's assessment of the Portland Trail Blazers was somewhat less favorable.
What a sad story. This team coalesced into something special, and boom, 80 percent of the starting lineup is gone. I've seen some people wonder if Portland might win 35 or 40 games next year. The Blazers are going to be bad. Like, really bad. This is now a full-on rebuilding job.
But Lowe was not that sanguine about Portland's chances even before their free agency losses:
The Blazers were second-tier contenders. If everything broke right, they might have made the Finals. First-tier contenders don't need as much luck, which is why most second-tier teams rarely survive three playoff series — at least not in the West. Re-signing Aldridge might have trapped the Blazers in second-tier status — even with a cap boom that would have offered rare flexibility for a pseudo-contender. Watching a 50-win team is much more fun than watching a lottery crew, but at least the Blazers get to take a moonshot now.
Interestingly enough, Jamario Moon is looking for a new home.
He was thinking Cleveland, but hey, Portland's nicer this time of year. Or any time of year, really.