The NBA offseason is all but over, at least for the Blazers. Portland had a great run after the all-star break, and ended up with 49 wins and the three seed. They had a very bad last 10 games of the regular season, however, and were swept in the first round. After such an embarrassing post-season, they had some needs to address during the offseason.
First, Jusuf Nurkic, Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier, and Pat Connaughton were all unrestricted free agents. Blazers resigned Nurkic to an affordable 4 year $48 million deal, but lost the other three players.
All Blazer fans were heart broken to see Ed Davis leave. The worst part was that his deal was only 1 year $4.4 million, which is less than what Blazers paid him the last three years. Any fan who watches many of their games knows how important Ed Davis was. He was a very good rebounder (7.4 RB off the bench), and could finish around the rim very effectively (58.2 FG%). Most of his value came in the intangibles, like hustle play and his defense around the rim. He obviously wasn’t a star, but he is worth the $4.4 million for the Blazers.
Shabazz Napier is a puzzling case, because he played well for most of the season, and could be a spark off the bench. However, his minutes mysteriously disappeared towards the end of the season. No one outside of the organization knows why, but I will say it’s just another one of Terry Stotts’ questionable decisions throughout the season. Ultimately, the Blazers made no attempt to keep him.
Blazers also let Pat Connaughton walk, but this was a move that didn’t disappoint me too much. Pat could obviously shoot, but was not very consistent, and didn’t produce enough to be a major contributor on offense. A guy like him can be valuable, but there are also many players out there like him.
Blazers did sign two new players: Nik Stauskas, and Seth Curry. Nik Stauskas is most likely a replacement for Pat, as he is just a three point shooter who has yet to be really effective in the NBA. Playing next to Dame and CJ might make give him the opportunities he needs to drain some threes.
Seth Curry is likely a replacement for Shabazz, but has demonstrated his value on the Mavericks, when he averaged 12.8 ppg on an efficient 48% from the field. He can shoot, drive, and handle the ball, so he can lead the second unit, or move Dame and CJ off the ball more. He is coming off a long injury, but cost-effective contract makes him low-risk.
I do like both of these signings, but what I don’t like is that Blazers didn’t get Isaiah Thomas, as the Nuggets got him for only $2 million. If Isaiah Thomas would have accepted a bench role behind Dame and CJ (big if), the Blazers should have jumped on the opportunity to bring him in, as he would have been a very low risk, high reward signing.
Lastly, Blazers had a major trade exception (over $12 million) that they didn’t use. A trade exception can be used to help match salaries. Basically, Blazers could have absorbed $12 million in a trade. This could have been used to get Wilson Chandler for free, or in combination with a player like Meyers Leonard to get a larger piece. The Blazers almost certainly called teams to try to make a trade, but not using this trade exception was a major disappointment for all fans hoping to see a veteran wing end up on the team.
Blazers have the star power to compete with anyone with the league, but it’s the vets like Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza who really help the team become a contender. Teams need the players who have experience, will do the dirty work, and that will change their roles to stay revive their careers or stay relevant. The Blazers instead let their hustle guy leave, and didn’t get anyone to replace him.
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