The Jerami Grant trade has signaled the Portland Trail Blazers’ intentions to improve this summer in a dramatic way. One Blazer’s Edge Reader, who admittedly wrote in before the trade news broke, wants to know if three months is enough to fix up the team. Check out this edition of the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag!
There’s a lot of talk about trades and drafting the right guy but I don’t see any way the Blazers can get it all done in one year or one week. Question 1—don’t you think this is a multiyear process? Question 2—How much is really riding on this year and this draft or the moves coming off of this draft?
You’re right, but only halfway.
Barring a miracle—which isn’t coming—the Blazers can’t fix what ails them with a single move, or even two. They’re not going to leap from struggling franchise to contender in a season, let alone a month. That’s too much to expect.
The Blazers don’t need salvation; they need traction. They’ve been spinning tires in mud since their big burst in 2019. After trying two-by-fours, kitty litter, and good, old-fashioned pushing on the bumper, they gave up the homebrew methods and are now getting serious. That’s what the mid-season moves were for: clearing obligation, opening up flexibility, resetting the tilt of the tires. Jerami Grant was the first result of those machinations. He won’t be the last.
The franchise isn’t at at stage were we can think about ultimate destinations yet. The direction is clear: straight off of this muddy margin, right back onto the road.
In that sense, the need is immediate and dire. If they can’t get pavement under the wheels right here, right now, the trip itself is in question. They might need to hike home and start again, abandoning the vehicle as a lost cause in the process.
They’d be doing that already if they didn’t have a premium, horsepower-producing engine in Damian Lillard. They know it’s going to rev when they hit the gas pedal. They know that, if they can get on the highway, the car will be fast. That’s why they’re making one more try.
When you read about Grant, OG Anunoby, John Collins, and others, you’re not reading about the magic acquisitions that will bring the Blazers a title. These are solid, high-traction tires, capable of getting the team over that hump on the side of the road. Once they’re rolling again, they’re going to make further adjustments, exactly like you’re envisioning.
Ultimately, you won’t be able to gauge the success of this summer’s moves in a single month or a single year. They’re starting a new, three-year arc this week. That’s exciting.
We will be able to judge, quickly and with a fair amount of certainty, if they don’t get the job done. The Blazers are all out of excuses. They can’t afford another, “We really wanted X, but it didn’t work out, so here’s Y instead” summer. You should see that as the long trudge home, shaking their heads. Portland probably can’t win it all yet, even with their moves this summer, but they sure can lose with a lack of them (or by committing to the wrong ones).
I hope, as you do, that after mid-July we’re able to engage in talk about a multi-year process, beginning with significant improvement now and fine-tuning for later. If they do well over the next month, that should happen. If they don’t, then this will go down as the summer when the old dream ended and the franchise was forced to embark in search of a new one.
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