The Trail Blazers are tasked with building a legitimate title contender around Damian Lillard with limited resources this offseason. When it comes to payroll, the Blazers currently have nine players under contract for next season. That number could quickly drop to eight players if Norman Powell opts out of his final year in hopes of securing a larger contract.
The combination of open roster spots and existing payroll have the Blazers headed above the tax line this offseason. In a league-wide free agency primer, CBS Sports NBA contributor Sam Quinn placed Portland in a category featuring teams that are headed for the tax.
Portland has around $21 million below the tax line, but that accounts for only eight players. Norman Powell isn’t one of them, and the Blazers wouldn’t have traded for him if they weren’t comfortable with the idea of paying him. Throw in the almost non-existent bench and the Blazers are going to have to pay the tax to field a competitive team. A Damian Lillard trade could change the equation, but for now, it would be hard to imagine Portland keeping Powell and staying below the line without a trade.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, three teams are projected to have enough space for a max slot. The Knicks, Spurs and Thunder all have the ability to make a splash on the open market this summer.
You can read the full report from Quinn at CBS Sports.