The future is bright in Rip City. Of course, to some people, throwing $70 million dollars at Evan Turner may not seem like the brightest future.
Well, we've made it through a large majority of the off-season. The 2016-2017 NBA Season officially tips off in less than 30 days and preseason will commence shortly. For some teams, this off-season was their greatest dream come true (Warriors), a total nightmare (Thunder, Heat? No, the Lakers), or a reunion of the 2011 Eastern Conference All-Star Team (Knicks).
For the Portland Trail Blazers, the 2015 off-season is a horrible afterthought, but as Damian Lillard proved to the doubters, anything is possible through hard work and commitment, and with that plus a little bit of luck, they made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs, farther than anyone ever imagined they would go.
The sky is the limit for this team, but for now, we'll stick with the present and analyze the moves that they have made.
The Trailblazers were devoid of a 1st round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, as it was traded to the Denver Nuggets the previous season in the trade which landed Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee. The pick ended up landing at 19 and was used by the Nuggets to draft Malik Beasley. However, Portland would not sit by idly and traded for the 47th pick Jake Layman from Orlando.
The biggest splash of free agency for the Blazers was Evan Turner signing a 4 year, $70 million dollar deal, but equally important was the signing of Festus Ezeli for a friendly 2 year, $16 million dollar deal.
Players who re-signed
Meyers Leonard: 4-year contract worth $41 million
Allen Crabbe: 4-year contract worth $75 million
Maurice Harkless: 4-year contract worth $40 million
C. J. McCollum: 4-year contract worth $106 million
Evan Turner: 4-year contract worth $70 million
Festus Ezeli: 2-year contract worth $15.2 million
Tim Quarterman: 2-year contract partially guaranteed worth $1.4 million
Players who left
Brian Roberts: 1-year contract worth $980,431 Charlotte Hornets
Gerald Henderson: 2-year contract worth $18 million Philadelphia 76ers
Biggest addition from this off-season
The addition of Festus Ezeli will benefit the team tremendously because the team lacked shot blocking and interior defense behind Mason Plumlee, and even then there wasn't much to begin with. Ed Davis was also reliable in those aspects but did not play in crunch time moments due to his poor free throw shooting, so look at Ezeli to help strengthen one of the core weaknesses that the Blazers had last season.
Biggest concern: minutes distribution
Here is the Blazers projected depth chart for the upcoming season:
Ignoring the fact that Maurice Harkless has vanished off the face of the planet in this depth chart, Ezeli is better than a 3rd string center, and a trade might be something to keep in mind for the future as there are too many big men in the rotation that will want to play major minutes. I don't think even Terry Stotts could figure this one out.
So what now?
Be positive, the future in Rip City is a bright one. Damian Lillard is the leader that this team needs to take it to the NBA finals, and keep in mind that he's not made of glass either (I'm looking at you, Greg Oden).
It's not always a bad thing to be an underdog.