While most teams with significant cap room this summer pursued outside free agents, the Trail Blazers focused most of their efforts on securing their own players. Portland did bring in Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli on pricey, multiyear deals, but the team’s other major investments were players who were already Blazers. Here’s a breakdown of the in-house players who got lucrative, long-term contracts from the team:
- C.J. McCollum: Four years, $106,633,450 (extension; goes into effect in 2017/18)
- Allen Crabbe: Four years, $74,832,500 (matched offer sheet)
- Meyers Leonard: Four years, $41,000,000
- Maurice Harkless: Four years, $40,000,000
Throw in the fact that Damian Lillard‘s new five-year, maximum-salary contract extension goes into effect for the 2016/17 season, and it’s no surprise that Portland has more guaranteed money on its cap in future years than any other NBA team.
As Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders details, the Blazers were able to do what some other teams haven’t been able to, ensuring that their top players will remain under contract for the long haul. But the club may have also painted itself into a corner to some extent, since its flexibility to make future additions will be limited. The Blazers’ long-term outlook may come down to how far Lillard and McCollum are capable of taking the team, writes Kennedy.
The Blazers are coming off an excellent season, in which they finished fifth in the West and won a playoff series before being knocked off by the 73-win Warriors in the second round. With at least one of the teams ahead of them in the West – the Thunder – expected to take a significant step back this season, the Blazers will be gunning for a top-four seed with a roster packed with young players on the rise.
Still, a skeptic could point to the fact that the Clippers squad beaten by Portland in the first round was decimated by injuries. It’s also fair to question whether or not the Blazers have enough frontcourt talent to complement their star guards.
That brings us to this morning’s poll question: Is the Blazers’ roster strong enough for the team to improve upon last year’s results? Barring a major trade or two, Portland’s core appears to be locked in for at least the next two or three years. Will the team take another step forward and become a championship contender during that time?
Weigh in with your vote, and feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts on the Blazers.
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