Predicting the Blazers Future if they make the Playoffs

It's June 22, 2017 and Neil Olshey is sitting in the Trail Blazers "war room" with three first round draft picks. After the trade for Jusuf Nurkic in February, Olshey has stood pat and waited for the offseason; little did he know how much this trade would impact his team and affect their future. After obtaining Nurkic from the Nuggets, the Blazers have won over half of their remaining games and made the playoffs, giving them the opportunity to play the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

While the Blazers received a lot of revenue from the playoffs, they lost the series in a gentleman's sweep (1-4). The result is expected, but it's tough to swallow for fans who are just now realizing how making the playoffs affected the future of this team. Back in March, the Blazers went on a huge run which included wins in San Antonio, Atlanta, and Miami that boosted them up the standings as Denver faced some stiff competition and began to slip. Fans now realize that if they punted the season away after losing to the New Orleans Pelicans 77-100, then they might get a top-8 draft pick in a deep draft instead of pick #14.

Instead, the Blazers got rewarded for making the playoffs by receiving picks #15, #22, and #28. Olshey knows he can combine the picks to move up into the top-ten or use a pick to add into a salary dump. Olshey combines the latter two picks and receives pick #17. The Blazers will take a swing at power forward and small forward, but will miss out on the "safe" prospects and draft another player with raw talent who can be molded by the Blazers system, similar to Noah Vonleh. These moves may help the Blazers in the long-term talent wise, but not financially.

After the draft, Olshey and the Blazers staff has to prepare for free agency. Just like every year, no top prospect wants to be one of the final pieces in the Blazers puzzle. Luckily Olshey found the solution to the big man problem with Jusuf Nurkic, so they can go out and focus on a starting caliber power forward. Unlike last year the team doesn't have the money to convince a top player to come to the Pacific Northwest. Neil will most likely cut Festus Ezelli to save $8 million and attempt to sign Ed Davis to the Mid-Level Exception. Free agency will most likely be a quiet time in Rip City this summer.

The Blazers will enter into the 2017-18 season with mainly the same roster and with limited cap flexibility. With Crabbe having lost his no-trade clause, everybody on the roster is eligible to be traded. Olshey will make a trade or two during the season, hopefully dumping salary and putting the team in a better position for the future. The Blazers use next year as the final season of their mini-rebuild and fight for the playoffs again down the stretch. One of their new rookies will come up huge like C.J did against Memphis, and the Blazers will be a cheaper team with a bright future again. However, only time will tell; maybe Portland can do what Utah has done and be set up with enough talent to contend for years to come.

No matter what plays out to end the season, I see the Blazers needing an extra year or two to make their push. By that time, Vonleh and Nurkic will be entering their primes and playing with newer rookies and Dame and C.J, the Blazers can be a serious threat once the Warriors begin their decline. Nobody can predict the future, but the NBA is a strange league. If everything plays out, who knows what could happen. Could Portland win the championship in the next half-decade? Only time will tell.