After spending the summer dumping salaries and drafting young, the Portland Trail Blazers will hope that internal grown buoys them in the 2017-18 NBA regular season. That’s the analysis from Shaun Powell of NBA.com, part of his 30 Teams in 30 Days series in preparation for the new campaign. In his article about the Blazers, Powell spends plenty of time deconstructing the old team before leaping into the new.
He starts by focusing on Allen Crabbe, traded to the Brooklyn Nets for Andrew Nicholson, who was subsequently waived.
There are times when you know, almost immediately, that signing a player is a reach. The Blazers admitted as much when they dumped Crabbe and his massive deal this summer on the team that gave him that four-year, $75 million offer sheet in 2016, the Nets.
Crabbe was too rich for the Blazers to keep. He does bring a dependable shooting touch but was one-dimensional and was never going to be a more than a backup to CJ McCollum. Thus, the Blazers were paying a combined $56 million a year to three guards, none of whom could defend, which was outrageous. Something had to give.
He mentions the Blazers trading for center Jusuf Nurkic last February--a move he credits for Portland executive Neil Olshey’s recent contract extension—then examines the rest of the team’s signings from 2016:
If they had it to do all over again, would the Blazers still break the bank for Crabbe, Mo Harkless, Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard and push their payroll to top five in the NBA? They all got paid two summers ago and none did anything special, at least not enough to improve the Blazers, a team still defined by the Lillard-McCollum combo and now, to an extent, Nurkic.
Powell touches on rookies Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan and detours through CJ McCollum courting New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony via social media this summer before pronouncing final judgment on the accumulated moves:
Portland’s best hope is for growth from within; the majority of the roster is well under 30 and it’s possible that some players haven’t reached their peak. However, how many besides McCollum and [Damian] Lillard are potential All-Stars? Until Portland can add to that mix, the Blazers will live on the cusp of the playoffs, unable to break through the elite group.