The NBA offseason of 2023 is rapidly coming to a close and the 2023-24 regular season approaching. With most moves done, David Aldridge ranked all 30 NBA teams [subscription required] on their performances this summer. Or, well, he ranked 29 of 30. The Portland Trail Blazers received a well-justified “incomplete” grade from the basketball guru, pending the potential trade of All-Star guard Damian Lillard. An utter lack of other moves outside of the draft contributed to the impression of a franchise in waiting rather than one in motion, furthering Aldridge’s “let’s see” approach.
Aldridge reminds readers that a positive offseason grade does not indicate overall approval of a team, nor does a negative grade portend doom. The NBA champions aren’t likely to make huge changes. Some of the teams rolling the dice hardest are going to fail. Portland transcended that distinction by doing...not much.
Aldridge runs down the Blazers like so:
Added: G Scoot Henderson (first round, third pick overall); F Kris Murray (first round, 23rd pick overall); G/F Rayan Rupert (second round, 43rd pick overall); C Ibou Badji (two-way)
Lost: F Trendon Watford (waived); F Kevin Knox (Blazers declined team option for 2023-24); G Jeenathan Williams (waived)
Retained: F Jerami Grant (five years, $160M); F Matisse Thybulle (matched three-year, $33M offer sheet from Dallas)
Returning from injury: F Nassir Little (core abdomen surgery); F Jabari Walker (left knee strain)
The skinny: If any team warrants an emoji shrug, it’s Portland. There’s simply no way to fairly judge the offseason until Lillard’s future is resolved. He’s still in Portland, though he still wants out, preferably to Miami. General manager Joe Cronin is holding out for a huge haul. If he got a Rudy Gobert-like ransom, I’d probably give the Blazers a top-half grade. Future picks and young players are likely how you’d want to build around Henderson, but you still wouldn’t have your franchise’s all-time best player going forward. And that hasn’t happened yet. Henderson certainly looks the part of a future superstar at the one, but that’s a lot of loot to pay to keep Grant.
What are you guessing Portland’s final grade will be?