After committing about $340MM to new contracts this offseason, the Trail Blazers are off to a slow start so far, and while that’s no reason to panic, it’s cause for some concern, says Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. As Deveney notes, Portland general manager Neil Olshey has a reputation for being fairly cautious with his personnel, so the team is unlikely to shake things up too significantly anytime soon. Still, the Blazers will definitely be a club to watch prior to this year’s trade deadline, particularly if their middling performance continues.
Here are a few more items from around the Northwest division:
- As Jody Genessy of The Deseret News details, the Jazz have been a much better team this season when George Hill and Gordon Hayward are playing together than when at least one of the two players are out of action. Utah will have to try to figure out a way to keep the duo together long-term, since both players are eligible to reach free agency in 2017.
- With rookie point guard Kris Dunn joining the mix, and Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine all a year older, the Timberwolves were expected to take a big step forward this season. So far, that hasn’t happened, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
- As the clear leader of the Thunder this season, Russell Westbrook is providing a singular voice for the team, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Meanwhile, Enes Kanter – occasionally mentioned as a possible trade candidate – says he expects head coach Billy Donovan to trust him “more and more” down the road, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman.