The Trail Blazers are just a single game out of the playoffs in the Western Conference, but with a 15-21 record, it has been an extremely disappointing season so far in Portland. Still, the organization isn’t panicking at this point, as there’s a belief that the team will work its way back into the postseason picture, writes Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. According to Haynes, Terry Stotts‘ job as the team’s head coach isn’t currently in jeopardy.
In a lengthy and interesting piece, Haynes provides several other notable Blazers-related tidbits, so let’s round up some of the highlights…
- The Blazers went into free agency aiming to retain their own key free agents, as well as adding another ball-handler and a rim-protecting big man. The club targeted players like Hassan Whiteside, Joakim Noah, and Dwight Howard, but came up short. According to Haynes, Portland was ready to renounce a player – perhaps Meyers Leonard – in order to free up cap room to sign Pau Gasol, but the free agent center opted to sign with San Antonio instead.
- Ultimately, the Blazers landed Festus Ezeli on a two-year, $15MM deal, but Ezeli may end up not playing a single game for the team, as he’s expected to undergo season-ending surgery. According to Haynes, Ezeli gave a “stern” locker-room speech after a tough loss last month — when the big man launched into a similar speech a couple games later, he was cut short by C.J. McCollum. As Haynes puts it, “being lectured by someone who wasn’t even playing wasn’t received favorably” by other Blazers players.
- Potential trade targets like DeMarcus Cousins and Nerlens Noel aren’t currently on the Blazers’ radar, sources tell Haynes. Cousins likely isn’t available anyway, and Noel is eligible for restricted free agency, so Portland may be turned off by his contract situation.
- The Blazers are open to making a trade, but don’t feel obligated to make a move. According to Haynes, the team isn’t looking to trade McCollum or Evan Turner.
- Team owner Paul Allen was insistent on retaining Portland’s own assets during the offseason, and as such, the team “never thought twice” about matching Allen Crabbe‘s offer sheet from the Nets, per Haynes.
- Be sure to check out Haynes’ full piece for more on the Blazers.