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Swartz: The Blazers ‘Blew It This Offseason’

Harsh words.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The second that franchise great Damian Lillard requested a trade on July 1, it was clear it wasn’t going to be the peachiest offseason for the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, 11 weeks later, the ensuing media circus around the situation threatens to get louder as training camp approaches with still no trade, embroiling the franchise in a speculative mess as it seemingly tries to turn the page to a new future.

In his latest piece, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz named the seven NBA franchises that “blew it this offseason.” For the Blazers’ role in creating this mess with Lillard, and how they’ve handled it since, Swartz added the franchise to his unflattering list.

Everything about this situation this summer has been messy. From the Blazers claiming they wanted to build a winner around Dame only to draft a point guard in Scoot Henderson at No. 3 overall, to agreeing to give Jerami Grant $160 million just a day before Lillard’s request was revealed, mistakes have been made all around.

Swartz argued the Blazers needed to be more proactive about the likely possibility of Lillard requesting a trade, rather than being at the mercy of a one-sided trade request. Instead, Swartz said the Blazers should’ve set an earlier deadline with Lillard about when both sides decided to mutually move on. That way, the Blazers could’ve made the necessary pivots to better kickstart a rebuild.

There should have been a firm line drawn in the sand at the beginning of the offseason, with a true deadline to make a decision about what was best for both parties. Had the Blazers agreed to trade Lillard before the draft, there could have been more and better offers available. Had Lillard made his request known before free agency, Portland wouldn’t be on the hook to pay Grant $36.4 million in his age-33 season.

Lillard should eventually get traded before the start of the season, but what about the rest of the Blazers’ veterans? Grant (who’s not eligible to be traded until Dec. 15 now) and Jusuf Nurkić are stuck on a rebuilding team when they should have been moved earlier this summer.

For now, this has been a messy, chaotic and uncomfortable offseason for everyone in Northwest Oregon.

It appears General Manager Joe Cronin and the front office were trying until the last hour to keep Lillard a Blazer. Hindsight is 20/20, but Swartz argued that late-game strategy just wasn’t good enough.

For their work this summer, Swartz added the Blazers among illustrious company such as the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers, among others.