For the fourth first-round exit in the previous 5 seasons, do NBA fans sense what’s in store for the Portland Trail Blazers?
The team’s superstar Damian Lillard remains under contract until 2025. As the off-season approaches, many teams have asked about the guard, with the Knicks, Clippers, and Heat reportedly leading the charge. It’s portrayed that Lillard wishes to stay with Portland, as he noted the head coach he wants the team to sign after parting ways with Terry Stotts. Damian Lillard is expected to have considerable input on Portland’s coach opening, as he publicly starts with, “Jason Kidd is the guy I want.” It develops into a tougher situation for Lillard to leave the Blazers when he’s preferring the next head coach.
The team’s core: Norman Powell, Enes Kanter, and 37-year-old Carmelo Anthony are among the players who could hit free agency. A big role in next season’s success is to consider re-signing Norman Powell. The top-tier defender and elite scorer could command $20 Million. Alongside two star guards, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum — earning $70+ Million combined — Portland may do some re-thinking.
Starting center Jusuf Nurkic remains uncertain on his future, “We’ll see. I don’t know yet. Because this is not it,” Nurkic told reporters when asked if he wants to stay in Portland. The big man can accommodate many fouls during his time on the court, which may lead the team to explore the market for centers. Zach Collins, a hidden gem, remains on Portland’s bench. A good rim protector with a great jumper on the offensive end could be a young piece the team is missing. The only dilemma is Collins’ consistency and conditioning.
The Blazers finished this past regular season with a defensive rating of 115.3, which classed as the second-worst rating in the NBA. Offensively, Portland finished behind only the Brooklyn Nets for the highest rating. It’s unclear that the Blazers will find a coach to commit to immediate improvements, but the front office might seek a defense-first coach to restore one of many team flaws.
The roster built around Damian Lillard will shift in the next two seasons owing to the progressing age of the team. It’s increasingly likely rumors will swirl around CJ McCollum and if Portland’s backcourt duo will still function — as the team can obtain many assets for the guard.