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Trail Blazers Deserve Time, Not Frustration

Portland has a path ahead. We just need to wait for them to move on it.

2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Cooper Neill/NBAE via Getty Images

As September starts, the Portland Trail Blazers remain in a holding pattern, caught between Damian Lillard’s trade request back in July and the start of the new season in October. The dead space has left plenty of room for feelings and theories to simmer. One reader has a particular slant on same, the subject of today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag.

Hey Dave,

How frustrated are you personally with our summer? It started with hope and now that’s gone. I can’t believe we’re losing Dame. I’m not looking for analysis as much as how you personally are feeling and how frustrated you personally are.


My personal frustration level is actually pretty low. Last year, before all this started in earnest, my mantra was fairly consistent. If Damian Lillard decides he wants to leave, there’s nothing the Trail Blazers can do about it other than decide whether to accede to his request. (And they pretty much have to, at some point.) They have to worry about the things they can control, not what Dame will decide.

A fair number of you are new to the site, but those who have read for the long haul can tell you that my frustration level was much higher at a couple other points.

The first, and most obvious, started during 2017, took a small hiatus during the playoffs run in 2019, then came back with a fury after it was evident that the Western Conference Finals were, indeed, a flash in the pan. It seemed like Portland had a legitimate chance to build, but they settled for the same rehashed plan, different iterations of the same roster scheme. Their destiny was far more in their control than it is now. Whatever they were trying, it didn’t work. Nor did they seem very honest about same.

The second came in the lead up to the summer, really somewhere around December of last year. It was evident at that point that the Blazers were playing to an audience of one: Damian Lillard himself. If they wanted to keep him, they had to succeed and grow. They did neither, regressing into a second straight year of the lottery. I understood why it was happening. I didn’t even object that much, personally. But the continued framing of the franchise as “Dame’s” seemed disingenuous at that point. If he was the focal point of their pitch, it needed to be better. Otherwise they needed to extricate themselves from their bondage to a single superstar.

Ironically enough, that appears to be happening right now. Drafting and keeping Scoot Henderson was a strong statement, a sea change. Holding firm against an immediate trade to the Miami Heat is another. The Blazers have declared independence, at least partially. That lowers my personal frustration level, even though it surely means reduced performance on the court and a slog through a fairly long rebuild. I can find more excitement (and less angst) in honestly doing that than in pretending that they’re going somewhere great when the odds are stacked against them.

Either way, the Blazers are at the tail end of dealing with forces beyond their control. In another few months, they should be free and clear to chart a forward course. After that, it’ll be time to get frustrated or happy again. Until then, I’m just riding it out like all the rest of you.

Thanks for the question! You can send yours to and we’ll try to answer as many as we can!