The Blazers could have attempted to keep their core intact after LaMarcus Aldridge made it clear he was going to leave in free agency, but the team believed that it wouldn’t have been in the best interest for the franchise long-term, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writes.
“Our goal was to bring LaMarcus back,” GM Neil Olshey said. “We were in the mix. He chose to take his career in another direction. But what we weren’t going to do was compound a negative situation and make it worse by signing long-term contracts and taking away flexibility for a team that, quite honestly, wasn’t going to be good enough. You have to be honest with yourself when you put a team together and you have to understand that was a group that got beat 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs with LaMarcus Aldridge, so it’s not reasonable to assume that that group as constructed, with no cap flexibility to bring in other players, was going to be capable of competing at a high enough level to justify giving up a future that can be a lot brighter as long as people understand it’s not going to happen overnight.”
The team’s core already begun to unravel prior to Aldridge’s agreement to sign with the Spurs. Portland let Wes Matthews, who agreed to sign with the Mavs, and Robin Lopez, who ended up inking a deal with the Knicks, leave in free agency and traded Nicolas Batum to the Hornets for an exciting young prospect in Noah Vonleh and a potential starting wing in Gerald Henderson.
Here’s more from Portland:
- Allen Crabbe, who readers of Hoops Rumors chose 10th in our re-picking of the 2013 draft, believes people are counting the Blazers out as contenders for the playoffs next season, but the guard feels like the team can prove the cynics wrong, Howard-Cooper writes in the same piece. “We lost four of our five starters, so I’m pretty sure they are [counting us out]. But it’s good to have a chip on your shoulder going into the season. A lot of people may take you lightly in games. It just gives us more motivation to go out there and practice harder, get ready for games and play as a team and just deal with that,” Crabbe said.
- Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are the team’s only true offensive threats, but the lack of proven playmakers will allow Portland’s young talent a chance to develop, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. “I think it’s an opportunity for a lot of these players coming in to expand their games offensively in particular,” coach Terry Stotts said. “You look at [Al]-Farouq [Aminu] and Moe [Harkless], they have a chance to become ball handlers, facilitators much in the way that we used Nic Batum.”