Following a run to the Western Conference Finals in the 2019 postseason, the Trail Blazers entered the year focused on contending for a title. Injuries and the slow implementation of players acquired in a busy offseason have moved Portland’s record to 4-8 to start the season, pausing serious discussion of contention. On Thursday, the Blazers signed 35-year-old forward Carmelo Anthony in hopes reversing their early-season fortunes.
Following the news of the signing, The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver detailed the circumstances that led to Melo joining the Blazers. The former Blazer’s Edge contributor outlined the struggles that have plagued Portland through 12 games that led to Thursday’s news.
The Blazers’ offseason plan relied heavily on Hassan Whiteside, a boxscore-stuffing center who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Heat, to provide an interior balance to the backcourt duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum and to buy time during Jusuf Nurkic’s recovery from a serious leg injury. But Whiteside’s effort level — long a point of contention in Miami — has been an issue, and his limited mobility has contributed to Portland’s subpar team defense.
With McCollum slumping and Whiteside failing to sustain a positive impact from game to game, Lillard has been left as a one-man band. The signature night of the Blazers’ season came on Nov. 8, when Lillard scored a career-high and franchise-record 60 points — outscoring all of his teammates combined — yet Portland still lost to the Brooklyn Nets at home.
The Blazers’ 4-8 record sits above only the Pelicans and Warriors in the Western Conference standings. Portland will begin a six-game road trip with a matchup against the Spurs on Saturday. Melo is set to join the Blazers during that trip.
You can read Golliver’s full story at The Washington Post.