The Blazers offseason started earlier than many of us hoped or expected. The Blazers were eliminated by the short handed Denver Nuggets, in what was yet another first round exit. The writing was on the wall long before that though. Portland’s 2020-21 season was graffitied with it. If the Blazers finally healthy for the most part with several upgrades in Robert Covington and Norman Powell didn’t make a deep playoff run, changes would be forthcoming. Not just the small cosmetic changes that were sprinkled in over the past 9 years, where a revolving door of role players were paired with Lillard, McCollum, and Nurkic to see if anything stuck. We are talking coaching changes, big trades, and perhaps even a new general manager. Well, that last one isn’t happen as it was announced Neil Olshey would be staying in Portland’s front office for the time being. He had a fall guy in Terry Stotts and has bought himself a little more time. The extent of next season’s changes may hold a bearing in exactly how much time that might be. For now the hourglass dwindles.
Olshey has a lot of work to do. Here is a guide to what kind of changes the Blazer should be looking into this offseason.
New Head Coach:
Portland needs to let Terry Stotts go. Under Stotts the Blazers were 29th in defense in the entire league this past season. The defense before that was not much better and has been a weak point of Stotts system. The offense has been called elementary and predictable by other players around the league. It relies far to heavily on the heroics of Damian Lillard, who is amazing in his own right, but still needs a little help from his friends. The Blazers need a tough coach who is defensive minded, and can develop a more complex system of offense for Lillard and Co to thrive in.
New Big Man Coach:
Don’t get me wrong, Jim Moran is a hell of a coach, but the Blazers need to let everyone on Stotts staff go with him. The Blazers need a reliable coach to further develop Jusuf Nurkic and Zack Collins. Nurkic is a powerful big man, but he needs more work on shooting in the paint, foot movement, ball placement, and defending without fouling. Collins is still very young and has shown capability on both ends of the floor but could do with more development from a more active coach.
Trade CJ McCollum:
CJ McCollum has played next to Lillard for 9 years, and the Blazers have tried everything to make it work. It hasn’t. McCollum and Lillard have unarguably been one of the leagues most dynamic and highest scoring backcourts in the NBA, but they are also one of the shortest, at 6’3 which hurts the Blazers on the defensive end as they work to guard taller opponents. McCollum is terrible inefficient. He scored 21 points in the Blazers final postseason game, but it took 20 shots to get there. That performance isn’t an outlier either. CJ and Dame are both ball centric guards who cancel each other out. Furthermore, McCollum’s isolation play has hampered the Blazers. He has improved his assists, and is a talented player in his own right, but the above has been proven again and again. Its time for a change. The Blazers should move him in a package for a solid forward and move Norman Powell to shooting guard where he belongs.
Resign Norman Powell:
Norman Powell has shown he can be a capable replacement of CJ McCollum. He is better shooter and defender. The Blazers can move him back to his natural position and Covington back to the three where he can better switch on defenders. The Blazers need to shoe Powell that they are serious about including him in their future. The Blazers need to get better defensively and resigning Powell as their starting shooting guard will go along way to that.
Let Carmelo Walk/Retire:
Look, Carmelo is a hall of fame player. He has had an amazing career. He has broken many records. He isn’t the player he used to be, and that is how the Blazers were trying to use him. Over-relying on him. Playing him far too many minutes. He is streaky and his inconsistency hurt the Blazers. Not to mention his defense, which seems to be below him at this point in his career. When he is on, he is amazing, but those times are far and few between. He is mostly colder than Rockies in the dead of winter. The Blazers kept watch over his legacy for a season and a half, helped him get into the top 10 all time scoring in the NBA. That’s great. But, the Blazers have guys like Little in the wings who they need to develop. To develop they need more minutes. More minutes means no Melo.
Sign A Backup Point Guard:
The Blazers need a true back up point guard to run things while Lillard is on the bench. McCollum has been atrocious running the bench. He is not a point guard. Neither is Simons. The Blazers need a TJ McConnell or Monte Morris off the bench to keep the Blazers from falling into deep holes. With McCollum out the door, there is no excuse. Get someone.
Get Another Star Level Player:
Replace McCollum with someone like Karl Anthony Towns, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle or Pascal Siakam. Instead of having both star players in the backcourt, stretch it out for a better team dynamic and make it things harder for the opponent.