Off-season Preview: Portland Trailblazers

Portland is definitely one of the more entertaining teams in the Association and in becoming as much has paid a pretty penny for it. However, all is not doom and gloom as we can expect the Blazers to be active on the trade front and will look to shed salary this way. Their abundance of draft picks will make this a much easier feat as they have three in this draft all in the first round. The biggest challenge they face is making these moves and at least maintaining their place in an always cutthroat Western Conference.

Needs: Use the draft picks they have to either move up or package in a trade that will include some contracts they need to unload.

Wants: If they decide to keep any of the picks make a selection that can impact the 2nd unit right away and look for a cheap veteran in free agency.

 

Summer cap breakdown

Guaranteed                             2017-18                        Insider info
Damian Lillard                     $26,153,057
C.J. McCollum                       $23,962,572
Allen Crabbe                         $19,332,500                   Trade bonus
Evan Turner                          $17,131,148
Meyers Leonard                   $9,904,494
Maurice Harkless                 $10,162,921
Al-Farouq Aminu                 $7,319,035                  Extension eligible
Ed Davis                                $6,352,531                  Extension eligible
Noah Vonleh                        $3,505,233
Jusuf Nurkic                          $2,947,305            Rookie extension eligible
Shabazz Napier                    $2,361,360            Rookie extension eligible
Jake Layman                          $1,312,611

Non/partial                             2017-18                      Guarantee date
Festus Ezeli                          $7,733,000           $1 million guaranteed June 30
Pat Connaughton                 $1,471,382                            July 25
Tim Quarterman                   $1,312,611

First-round cap holds            2017-18
No. 15                                      $2,365,560
No. 20                                      $1,859,400
No. 26                                      $1,465,920

 

Outlook:

Whoa Nellie! Three first round picks!!! Well, as I mentioned given the Blazers’ cap situation ($22 million over luxury tax) there’s a very small possibility that they will keep all of them. But for the sake of operating as is I made my predictions predicated on the belief that they will all stay. I have them taking the big fella Caleb Swanigen out of Purdue first with the 15th pick. Big bruiser (6’9″ and 247lbs.) and immovable force that is a talented scorere not only in the post but also from range. With their 20th pick I have them selecting Jordan Bell from Oregon. The 6’9″ forward wit ha 7’0″ wingspan is a ready made rim protector which will bode well for a Portland team that isn’t exactly known for their defense. And with the 26th pick I have them taking Oklahoma State point guard Juwun Evans. An aggressive and effective pick and roll point that could be a huge addition to their 2nd unit.

Since the Blazers are well over the cap the only space they have available to them is the $5.2 million MLE. With 12 relatively young guaranteed contracts they don’t have many holes to fill so their move will be to get a veteran off the bargain bin that is hellbent on proving himself. Which is why many having them eyeing several trades (they’ve even thrown their hat into the bag for Paul George for chrissake) to help aid in moving some of their contracts with an eye future flexibility.

 

Names to watch:  Jerami Grant – SF – Team Option, Thabo Sefolosha – SF – Unrestricted, Tiago Splitter – C – Unrestricted, Ben McLemore – SG – Restricted,

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