The Portland Trail Blazers’ 2021-22 season has come to an end. The summer ahead will hold plenty of decisions for the club. They put 27 different players on the court during the regular season. Not all are still with the team, but enough are that there’s no way the Blazers could retain them all...if they even wanted to. A 27-55 record would argue against a high retention rate, but asterisks abound despite the dismal performance.
Into this question-filled swamp stride Dave Deckard and Dia Miller with their annual review of Portland’s roster. They talk about each player, then decide whether they would keep or yeet (toss) the player in the coming year. Performance, fit, age, salary, and team priorities/direction are all open for discussion.
Today we discuss Drew Eubanks, a signee from the San Antonio Spurs who ended up carrying Portland’s frontcourt through the painful final third of the season. Playing on a series of 10-day contracts, Eubanks started all 22 games in which he appeared, averaging 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in 29.5 minutes per game, shooting an astonishing 64.6% from the field. Those numbers make you look twice, but the team results were poor. Eubanks has never been much more than a low-rotation player in the NBA. Should Portland consider bringing him back?
Dave: It seems almost cheating to do Trendon Watford and Drew Eubanks back to back, but they played more minutes than any of the other lesser-known Trail Blazers, so here we are. We agreed that Watford was a keep. What do you think about Eubanks?
Dia: If you’d told me at the beginning of the season that I’d be arguing to keep Drew Eubanks on the team, I wouldn’t have believed you. But what a season it’s been. I’m going to say keep with an asterisk. I think Eubanks is a solid backup to Nurkic— which is something we need. That being said, if there’s a world in which we could get someone more experienced, I might be open to that. But I’m not sure who that would be. So for the sake of this, I say keep Eubanks as a backup center for next year.
Dave: I like what Eubanks did. I think he and Watford made a solid argument to man the deep bench together: ready to play, ready to grow, dependable as rain, but neither one having to crack the rotation to be valuable. As with Watford, this is a matter of trust for me. I watched Eubanks play under terrible conditions, when everything in the universe argued for him to assert himself at the expense of the team or teammates. In this midst of that, I saw a player trying to make the right plays, learning as he went, and throwing his heart into the game. His offensive efficiency was good. His rebounding was fine. He never made you sad he was on the court.
I like to look at body language to see where a guy is. Eubanks threw himself into almost every moment of every game. He was into it, in a way other players just weren’t. I don’t think he’s the be all and end all. I do think they should re-sign this guy and start stocking the deeper bench with players who are going to help the team without having to be the team.
Dia: I agree. I think he’s a good asset and I think role players are important for this team. It seems like those are going to be the guys that are going to make an impact moving forward. We have stars coming back. We need another piece or two and then we need guys like Eubanks who can be solid back up. Nurkic is likely re-signing next season, the team has made It clear he’s not being moved, so a guy like Eubanks will be good coming off the bench.
Dave: I could see Eubanks as the third center. Also, even if the Blazers re-sign Nurkic, I don’t think that automatically means he’s going to remain with the club through the duration of his contract. One of the concepts we’ve talked about during this exercise is that signed contracts/talent to facilitate trades may be as important as potential cap space, especially if the Blazers opt to keep Damian Lillard. The beauty about a guy like Eubanks is that he can occupy a rotation spot without impacting the salary cap in any meaningful way. Plus it seems like he loves being a Blazer, and that never hurts.
Question, though: this was a 27-55 team. We just voted thumbs up on Watford and Eubanks. Are we keeping too many people here?
Dia: I think this is a tricky stat. Because we didn’t have healthy Dame at all. Then we started losing significant players one by one. So the reality is, even if we didn’t make one more change (which I’m not suggesting), we are going to have a better record next season simply because we will be healthy. That being said, I don’t think we have a lot of wiggle room. We have guys we need to keep because we need people on the roster and We can afford them. I think if they can make a couple changes, we will be okay. Depending on your definition of “okay” I suppose.
Ok, readers, what do you think? Should Eubanks get another shot with the team, this time on a longer deal, or would it not make any difference? Register your opinion in the comment section below!
Our story so far...
Anfernee Simons: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Jusuf Nurkic: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Ben McLemore: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Keep
CJ Elleby: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Yeet
Nassir Little: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Trendon Watford: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Drew Eubanks: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep