The Portland Trail Blazers offseason has been nothing short of anticlimactic. In a somewhat deep draft the Blazers took youngster Anfernee Simons, a guard with an exciting future, but who is probably a few years out from contributing, with their first round pick. Then they bought into the 2nd round and took Gary Trent Jr, whose father played in Portland. Hopefully Jr is the better player.
Then came free agency. It didn’t start well either. First, Ed Davis walked away at the behest of Neil Olshey to join the Brooklyn Nets seemingly at the strike of midnight. Gone for a lousy four mil. A gut punch. Shabazz Napier soon followed him to New York. Not as surprising, nor as painful. ( The good out of it, is that they will both get a chance to be starters. I wish them the best. No hard feelings.) Then went Pat Connaughton back to the midwest to join the Bucks. Not very distressing. Bye bye Papagianis. Innocuous. 3 open spots!
So, Neil Olshey threw up a hail mary shot, trying to put together a trade that would have brought All Star DeMarcus Cousins to the Blazers. A desperate attempt to get another star in Portland. Air ball.
Turns out DeMarcus Cousins and Jusuf Nurkic have the same agent, Andrew Rogers. He saw a trade that was not beneficial to his clients and nixed it. “This is chess not checkers.”
Not sure how a post torn achilles Cousins would have fitted in Rip City anyhow. With no insurance that he would heal to be the same elite player, and with the probability that the trade had Jusuf Nurkic heading out, it’s probably a good thing it didn’t pan out.
Then Olshey went after Mario Hezonja, the young Croatian forward who had just come off 3 years with the Magic. He would have been a fantastic get for Portland. Someone to take a good amount of stress off Lillard and McCollum. Neil threw out the line, snagged him, had almost reeled him in. Columnist and NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski even tweeted that Hezonja and the Blazers had reached a deal. Much to the chagrin of Blazer fans, the tweet was rescinded moments later, for Hezonja had decided on a last second whim to choose a different team. Shot off right rim to New York.
At least Neil was going after worthy players. Needle movers. Who would be next? Blazers sign Nik Stauskas? I waited for another rescinding. Nope. Stauskas? Really? Glad to know we aimed high. Don’t get me wrong, he can shoot the three like nobody’s business. Well, in college anyway where he shot 41%. He has struggled in his four years in the NBA to match that. Though he did shoot 40% last year in Brooklyn on very limited attempts.
So, Stauskas. Ok. He gives the Blazers another shooter who can stretch the floor and take defenders off of Lillard and McCollum. Hopefully, he fares better here.
Two spots open. Blazers sign Seth Curry. A good signing. Blazers needed a replacement for Napier. Check. While he is not Stephen by any means, he can shoot the ball from beyond the arc with ease, finishing at just over 42% last season for the Mavericks. If he can come back from a broken tibia with his shot in form, the Blazers should be in good hands.
One spot left. The Blazers decide to guarantee Wade Baldwin’s contract. Baldwin, a young energetic guard has earned his keep. He has shown promise on both ends of the floor. He will get his chance this season.
If you thought the summer was over yet, you’d be right. Blazers had the $12.9 million Crabbe Trade Player exception. Olshey touted it as a tool he would use in the off season to bring a needle mover to Portland. The Blazers would would use it like cap space, in lieu of a trafitional trade, since their heads were essentially pushing against an expensive ceiling. There was obviously a short list of targets, names we can only guess. None of them could be wrested from their prospective teams. The TPE was let to expire.
So, there is the offseason. Nothing to get excited about. No fireworks. The no big name free agents coming to Portland curse remains. The Blazers haven’t moved the needle much if any from last season. They are thinner in the front court. The Blazers still have 2 two way contracts left to fill. (Training camp invitees Chinanu Onuaku, and Cam Oliver may fit the bill)
The Blazers will undoubtedly shoot better. Teams will have a harder time doubling Lillard and McCollum with Curry and Stauskas around. Hopefully, we get the better side of Harkless to start the season. It would help things if Aminu worked on his dribble and Meyers on his stage fright. There is a lot of work to be done. Another unfulfilling summer. Another season of cake baking. Perhaps, the games should be televised on the food network. Either way, it looks like we will be waiting a bit longer for the frosting.