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Lowe: Capped-Out Blazers Are Free Agency Losers

ESPN’s Zach Lowe names Portland as a loser in free agency, handcuffed by huge contracts as other teams passed them by.

Neil Olshey and Bob Myers
Blazers GM Neil Olshey talks with Warriors GM Bob Myers before Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal game of the NBA Playoffs.
Getty Pictures

ESPN’s Zach Lowe labeled idle Portland a “loser” in 2017 NBA Free Agency, because other Western Conference teams made smart transactions to improve their rosters.

With the Trail Blazers currently expected to be luxury tax payers at season’s end, their free agency flexibility was limited. So aside from waiving Festus Ezeli and moving Tim Quarterman to the Rockets, the Blazers have made no real moves since the NBA Draft.

Lowe reminds readers that “the priced-out Blazers” could have more than $130 million in player payroll in each of the next three years. Portland’s last significant roster move was acquiring Jusuf Nurkić from the Denver Nuggets, along with a draft pick that helped the team acquire Zach Collins on Draft Night.

Standing still in the West is like pulling your hamstring in a road race and watching everyone whiz by you. The Blazers are coming off a .500 season, and at least two teams below them -- the Wolves and Nuggets -- are primed for a leap. Utah and the Clippers should hang in the playoff race. Portland could have more than $130 million, and perhaps much more, committed in each of the next three seasons.

He also discusses the risk Neil Olshey took in signing Evan Turner to a sizeable contract, then matching an even larger offer sheet for Allen Crabbe. Are those contracts tradeable?

Nope. Portland would need to sweeten the pot with a first-round pick to flip either of those guys right now. In hindsight -- and you know what they say about hindsight -- they probably should have picked one.

Lowe had more upbeat thoughts about Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless, who are signed to smaller contracts. He also likes the addition of Nurkić, but isn’t convinced he’s enough to topple the new Western order.

The Blazers have upside. Their best players are young, and they went 14-5 with Jusuf Nurkic in the starting lineup before he broke his leg. But the landscape has changed.

Visit his article for far more analysis of the free agency season, including why he believes one of the big winners was “Boredom.”