The Portland Trail Blazers have had high moments and low during their 2022-23 NBA regular season campaign. Those have averaged out to a near-.500 record, with exciting fireworks mixing into the dough of sustained mediocrity like so many bittersweet chocolate chips.
In his weekly Lowe Post podcast, ESPN analyst Zach Lowe expressed some befuddlement over the Blazers, both their identity and where they go from here. He wonders whether the Blazers have entered a perilous comfort zone, or perhaps a dead end.
The Blazers discussion starts at 1:03:15 of the show, with Lowe and partner Tim MacMahon trying to formulate a trade for guard Anfernee Simons and center Jusuf Nurkic. Frustrated, with no better options than Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, they review Portland’s situation.
You know, I just think Portland is arriving at this crossroads of, this is just what we are, we’re just a mediocre team. We’re exciting, we’re fun, we got good pieces, we’re more athletic, we’re more defensively versatile on the wing, and yet we’re 23-26, this is just what we are. The more I watch them, I talked about this last week, I’m not gonna get into their identity, I don’t really know what their identity is on either end of the floor.
So we’re trying to maximize Dame Lillard’s prime. That’s the goal He’s ten toes in, and 60 million dollars times four in. He’s in, as long as he wants to be, he’s in. The Blazers want him to be in.
This current group is not maximizing Damian Lillard’s prime, it’s just not. I don’t think it has a pathway to, unless Simons becomes like a superstar overnight, and the more I watch them, it’s just another defensive pairing that does not work, and will not work, and cannot work unless the other three guys on the floor are like Draymond, Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston from 2016. Or Durant from 2018. It’s not going to work.
If I were running the Blazers, I would be sniffing around what I could get for Simons. IF my goal was Dame, if my goal is I just gotta maximize this window right now. I’d be sniffing around the unconventional stuff. What can I get for Simons? What can I get for Grant? Do I actually want to pay Grant all this money?
I don’t think they’re doing that. .Other teams that the Blazers have talked to have said that they’re posturing like they’re buyers still. They want to get better, and I look at their roster and I’m like, what avenues do they have to get better?
Lowe also cites the similarity between the Lillard-Anfernee Simons backcourt and Lillard-CJ McCollum in this video, saying, “We’ve seen this movie before.”. He underlines the age gap between the two guards (32 vs. 23) as another reason the duo makes for a curious couple.
A huge hat tip to Blazer’s Edge Reader Steve for alerting us to the podcast and for much of the transcription above! If you see Blazers news, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!