This is both tough and exciting times for your Portland Trailblazers. The NBA trade deadline has come and past with a number of changes to the Trailblazers roster and coaching staff. Head Coach Nate McMillian was fired, and veterans Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace shipped out of town. With the playoffs looking unlikely for the Blazers, the time is now to evaluate the roster and determine what players the team believes can help them heading into the future. Over the last few weeks of the season, we should get a good look at Luke Babbit, Nolan Smith, and Jonny Flynn.
The players who we should expect back next season are Lamarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, and Nicolas Batum. Batum is a restricted free-agent, but the team is expected to sign him to a new deal after trading Wallace to the Nets. With Wallace and Camby gone, and Raymond Felton likely not coming back next season, the Blazers will have a lot of salary cap space which should allow them to add some good veterans to help rebuild the team. And, the Blazers could potentially have two top 10 picks in this year’s draft. The increased flexibility in both the draft and free agency will help the Blazers return to playoff form in a short period of time.
The most important order of business this off-season is the search for a new General Manager and a head coach. The Blazers desire someone with previous GM experience and will likely make their hire before they begin their search for a new coach. The General Manager is crucial because they will help select a new coach, and the coach/GM relationship needs to be one that has great synergy in order to improve the team moving forward. This is one of the biggest off-seasons the Blazers have faced in years.
With Brandon Roy and Greg Oden both out of the game due to injury, the Blazers move into a new era, but with Aldridge in place as the team’s cornerstone and opportunities in both the draft and free agency, there is once again hope in Rip City. Let’s get the off-season started!
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