After being dropped again and fired by coach Terry Stotts, many believe it may finally be time for the Portland Trail Blazers to rebuild. Teams have already made calls over the availability of Damian Lillard, but it remains to be seen if Portland is ready for a bigger sack.
Lillard, 30, has remained very loyal to the Blazers. He has never complained about the lack of talent or his frustration towards the organization, so the front office may ultimately be the ones who decide to exchange him if they feel like the right move in business is similar to that. which happened to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.
Since Lillard’s arrival, the Blazers have been eight times in the playoffs. They had four first-round losses, including being swept twice, three second-round losses and a single Conference Finals appearance where they were swept by the Golden State Warriors.
His most recent first-round loss to the Denver Nuggets was too disappointing, as the Blazers were in full health, while the Nuggets missed their second star, Jamal Murray. Eight direct playoff losses should give him a reason to start again. It seems pretty obvious that the backcourt duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum hasn’t escaped, and it may be time to swap one or the other.
McCollum is three years old, about $ 100 million still remaining in his contract, while Lillard is four years old, $ 196 million with a player option for the last year. After underperforming performances, it can be difficult to replace McCollum, which is why Lillard is the obvious choice for teams to pursue.
Outside of the two stars, Portland has quite a few free agents. Norman Powell and Derrick Jones Jr. have player options. Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony and Harry Giles will become unrestricted free agents, while Zach Collins will become a restricted free agent. There is a belief that Powell will definitely get an extension, but the others are not guaranteed to return.
Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington have one more year on their contract, which allows the Blazers to slowly begin a rebuilding process this season. It would be ideal for them to stack select projects and young players with Lillard and McCollum and use the flexibility of the cap for future moves.
The Blazers could fit very well by marketing Lillard since it has an extremely high value. It’s possible for the Blazers to get about three to four first-round picks in addition to a couple of young players for Lillard, which will give them a solid starting point for a rematch.
McCollum could also pull off a couple of projects, but his contract won’t allow the Blazers to maximize their value.
The Blazers have been quiet so far regarding a rebuild. They can entertain the idea if the opportunity arises, i.e. they can get a lot in return for their stellar players.
However, if for some reason Lillard breaks his silence and loyalty, he might smell the smell of Portland. They could be in the same situation as the Houston Rockets, who held on to a disgruntled superstar in James Harden and didn’t have much influence. Luckily for Portland, Lillard has been under contract for quite some time, which doesn’t give him a reason to rush things.
Will the whole list be dug up and blown up? It could definitely happen in the near future, so stay tuned.