The Trail Blazers have had a relatively quiet offseason in 2018, and that is largely due to a payroll that is bursting at the seams. Portland wasn’t alone this summer in that regard, as the market for free agents dried up quickly. Player movement around the NBA is on the verge of slowing to a crawl, but offseason questions still remain.
Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated covered the the issues attached to the less-than-ideal contracts that several teams possess in a post earlier this week, and the Blazers’ lack of flexibility took center stage.
The money crunch hasn’t only hurt free agents, it’s hurt teams who are stuck with long-term money. The Heat, Hornets and Blazers are just a few teams who came into this summer probably hoping on some level to get rid of a couple deals. It just hasn’t happened. On one hand, teams in the middle class aren’t desperate to make moves with the Warriors gap looming large. At the same time, I can’t imagine any of the teams mentioned are happy running it back next season with their rosters as presently constructed. Portland, especially, was a little exposed during the postseason. The Blazers’ run to the third seed was commendable, but their playoff exit was equally dispiriting. I’m a little surprised they are largely bringing back the same squad. Sooner rather than later, it may be time for something drastic in PDX.
As of now, Portland is over the luxury tax threshold for the 2018-19 season. To further complicate things, the Blazers are already close to the same line for the 2019-20 season.
Finding a trade partner for a salary dump at this point in the summer will be a tough task for Portland. The Hawks and Nets have already used their cap space to acquire assets, and the Kings used a portion of their available money to sign two free agents on Friday.
You can read Nadkarni’s full story on the NBA offseason by visiting Sports Illustrated.