We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Portland Trail Blazers
BOSTON – “You get a contract, you get a contract, and you get a contract” seemed to be a recurring theme last summer in Portland as they bolstered their roster with a number of big-money deals to both their own free agents as well as those who played with other teams.
But those moves didn’t quite work out as planned with the Blazers (41-41) squeaking into the postseason as the eighth and final seed which led to them being a basketball hors-d'oeuvre for Golden State during the Warriors’ run towards a second NBA title in the last three years.
The Blazers still have high hopes, but it’s clear that they see less – as in payroll – is more in their quest to build off of last season’s strong regular season finish which included them winning 12 of their last 16 games.
Portland shipped out Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn for Andrew Nicholson (who has since been waived), with the Nets taking on the remaining three years of the four-year, $74.8 million contract Crabbe signed last summer.
Not only did it ease the financial hit Portland was slated to take, but it also eased some of the roster congestion with a number of perimeter players who on many levels, seemed to replicate one another rather than compliment one another's game.
And the addition of big man Jusuf Nurkic during the middle of the season provided a major boost to the Blazers roster, and gives them what they desperately needed – a big man who can impact the game scoring the ball and on the glass.
However, a broken leg injury kept him out of 10 of Portland’s last 11 games.
Prior to that, he had a double-double scoring and rebounding the ball in six of the Blazer’s previous seven games.
The Blazers envision a Big Three of their own consisting of all-star Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Nurkic.
Beyond that Big Three, the Blazers have a slew of solid but not spectacular role players such as Al-Farouq Aminu, Myers Leonard and Mo Harkless who averaged 10.0 points per game last season while shooting a career-high 50.3 percent from the field.
There’s a lot to like about this Blazers roster. But when you look the Northwest Division, Portland will have one of the tougher roads around getting to the postseason for what would be a fifth straight season.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: None.
Key losses: Allen Crabbe (Brooklyn).
Rookies of note: Zach Collins; Caleb Swanigan.
Expectations: 45-37 (5th in the Northwest Division, 9th in the West).