The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t make any big splashes during the 2019 NBA free agency period. However, they are still one of the top teams in the conference. With Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis all headed to Los Angeles (with Davis teaming up with LeBron James), it should be an excellent race to the NBA Finals.
Anyone counting out the Trail Blazers is playing with fool’s gold. Today we will go over the quiet moves Portland made that can help them bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Damian Lillard’s extension
With all the hoopla surrounding the game’s biggest stars, Portland locked up the face of their franchise for the remainder of his prime. Lillard has always been extremely loyal to the Trail Blazers organization, so it comes as no surprise that he signed a five-year $196 million supermax contract extension. This will keep him in Portland until he is 35 years old, since he has two seasons remaining on his max contract.
Damian Lillard’s comments about super teams
In his recent interview on ESPN’s The Jump Lillard stated” Personally..I’m not a team up type of person…If I’m going to lose the way trying to do it the way I’m doing it.. I can live with that…I don’t think it’s nothing wrong with what guys are doing..when I see it I kind of get excited about the challenge of it”.
His loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers and refusal to create a super team could help the roster depth come playoff time.
The Trail Blazer’s nice free agency pickups
The biggest move the Blazers did was trading for Hassan Whiteside. When motivated and healthy, Whiteside is a game-changing defensive big man, capable of averaging over 3 blocks per game.
He will be a great addition to the lineup and should ease the burden on Lillard and CJ McCollum on the defensive end of the floor.
Rodney Hood returning to the Blazers
After coming over to Portland via trade, Hood has been a bright spot on the second unit for the Trail Blazers. He averaged over 11 points per game in Rip City and re-signed on a two-year $16 million deal. He will be 28 years old at the end of the contract and could be looking at a huge payday if he keeps his composure in check.
Hood is an explosive scorer, and can take the ball to the rim with authority. His athleticism makes him the leading candidate for the sixth man position. Especially now with Seth Curry heading to Dallas on a free-agent deal.
Jusuf Nurkic back for the postseason?
After going down with a broken leg in March, Jusuf Nurkic’s injury had a huge impact on the Western Conference playoff race. Without him in the middle, the Warriors frontcourt didn’t have any trouble taking care of business against the Trail Blazers.
Nurkic can be a double-double machine, and if he is back by the end of March it could be enough time for him and Whiteside to build up chemistry for another deep playoff run.
The lineup may not be optimal for long stretches in the playoffs, but having two players capable of picking up loose balls and altering the shots of the opposing offense could make them extremely tough to beat.
The Portland Trail Blazers look to continue their success
With all the new faces in the conference (plus Denver remaining intact), we think Portland should still be a top-three team and fight for the NBA championship. Of course, all this depends on them staying healthy.
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