The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the San Antonio Spurs last night to be eliminated from the Western Conference Playoffs. The Blazers’ magical run came to an end in the second round of a grueling playoff series. Despite the disappointment of no more Rip City basketball this year, this was a season for the record books.
Coming into the season, the oddsmakers in Vegas set the Blazers’ win total over/under at 38.5. The Blazers exceeded that amount by 15.5 wins in the regular season. I will have a comprehensive season recap coming in a week or so, after the exit interviews.
For now, let’s focus on the now present offseason. Last summer, General Manager Neil Olshey had a heyday, many thought that he should have been voted as NBA Executive of the Year. This summer it is going to take that kind of effort to take this team to the next level. Expectations next season will be much higher for this young team and to match those expectations, a few things need to happen this summer.
1 – Re-Sign LaMarcus Aldridge. This is a huge one. Aldridge deserves a big contract. The reason this is so important is that this team does not need any added distractions next season if Aldridge gets closer and closer to free-agency. I wrote about this a couple weeks ago. If there isn’t a contract on the table for Aldridge, right now, Olshey is playing with fire.
2 – Extend Terry Stott’s Contract. Coach Stotts has become a beloved coach around the city of Portland. If Stotts were to not be retained, there would be an outrage throughout the fans. Also, Stotts has really built up a repor with young players, especially Damian Lillard. Those relationships are very valuable to have in a franchise.
3 – Solidify A Ball Handling Bench Player. This is huge. Mo Williams has said that he is going to opt out of his contract this summer and test free agency. He has said that he would like to come back to Portland but I don’t know if he is in the long-term plans for this team. CJ McCollum may be able to step into this position but I really think that this team needs a veteran 6th man coming off the bench.
4 – Depth, Depth, Depth. This is a multiple choice question that could have many answers. This team has a young nucleus of bench players that are filled with potential and could fill this void for the Blazers. There will be some cap space for Olshey to use to being in a player or two. One player that I am going to be keep in my eye on this summer is Vince Carter. He is entering free agency and is a solid veteran that can come off the bench and bring championship experience to such a young team.
For me, the offseason is almost as fun as the regular season. The draft, free agency, trades, Vegas summer league, training camp … There are so many questions and so much intrigue that goes into the next 5 months. The bright future of this franchise can be really intensified with an exciting offseason. We’ll watch as the dominoes fall, but for now, the excitement of this historical season still lingers.