A friend asked me to rate the Trail Blazers’ offseason. Here’s the summary of what happened from the perspective of everyone in the country that doesn’t closely follow the team:
- Four starters left
- Damian Lillard signed to huge extension
- A ton of young, cheap players added to the team
To the outsider, this not lookin’ so good. But outsiders are simpletons. Here’s the positive spin:
- We liked Nic Batum personally, but he never panned out and had played like a bum for the past year and for the past two years in the playoffs. And he didn’t walk away, we traded him. And Portland came out ahead in that trade, mind you. Still, we parted on good terms. A guy to clap for when he rolls through Portland.
- Robin Lopez is a frickin’ weirdo, but we liked him because Portland is weird. And it was funny how he fought with the mascots in all the away arenas. But then he goes out and averages 9.6 and 6.7. And he’s dicking around with mascots at halftime when we’re down. And when we’re on a losing streak. And then he’s tweeting about Star Wars and the fucking Muppets or whatever in between games. In the words of Keith Armstrong, “You ain’t good enough to be an asshole.” I got killed on the Blazersedge forums when I called him out during the playoffs and said management was going to laugh in his face this offseason when he asked for a payday. Well who’s laughing now, idiots? Portland fans will clap for this guy when he comes to town, but I don’t care one way or another.
- Wesley Matthews, God love him. We love him too, but he just asked for too much money coming off an Achilles injury (probably too much with no Achilles rupture). Sorry, brother. Not much else to say there. He was a little offended we didn’t offer him anything, but he already priced us out of the market based on what he was saying to the press. Glad you got paid, though, Wes. No hard feelings and we’ll cheer for you when you visit. Should be loud cheers for all that he gave the team.
- LaMarcus Aldridge. What a ride he had in Portland. From playing third wheel to the Next Great Dynasty to being thrust into a franchise player to being Portland’s only truly great player to becoming maybe the best big man in the league to being the cornerstone of a contender-in-the-making to departing for greener pastures. Whew. I’ll say it again: what a run. Here are the facts, though:
- The Blazers were never going to win a championship with a LaMarcus-Damian core. Sure, we could have hung out as a 3, 4, or 5 seed for a few more years, but the last couple seasons was a glimpse into the crystal ball, telling us that unless a miracle occurred in the form of a sleeper draft pick or major injuries to all other teams, there was not a Larry O’Brien trophy in our future.
- LaMarcus deserves a chance to see a change scenery as much as any person in any job
- LaMarcus’ best chance of success is with another franchise
- He deserves to get booed when he comes back because
- A) He’s now on the other team, this is a competitive sport, and therefore he’s the enemy
- B) He chose someone else over us
- He deserves to get cheered when he comes back because
- A) It’s just sports
- B) We have a good history with him
On the Blazers’ future, it is bright indeed. ESPN ranked their young team (average age 24) pretty high if that means anything to you. Most of the time, a team has to wallow in mid-level mediocrity for several years before pushing reset. We were spared that and get to jump ahead and push reset while most of Damian Lillard’s best years are ahead of him. We’ll know more as the season progresses but everything is looking very nice so far. If you’re going to push reset, THIS is the way to do it. Sign your best player, surround him with young talent, have a GM with a proven track record, a coach with a player-friendly offense, and let the players play. We’ll figure it out as we go along.