(The first of a multi-part series providing an inside look at the many moves the Trail Blazers have made this summer)
For the past few seasons, one of the strengths of the Trail Blazers has been their continuity. The team may have frustrated its fans at times by not making many major moves during the off-season but familiarity and continuity combined with player development to produce a playoff berth each season, two No. 3 seeds and a trip to the Western Conference finals.
But this summer, the team has made several key changes, including the addition of shot-blocking center Hassan Whiteside and future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol. And at the same time, two youngsters – Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons – are going to be counted on to provide key support for the team’s veteran players. And as far as continuity is concerned, a piece of that has been ensured for at least the next five years with contract extensions signed this summer by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
And there is not a lot of concern for fitting the new pieces into the team’s culture and on-court style of play.
“They were all brought in for a specific purpose and a specific skill set,” said Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. “They will all have a defined role.
“I think when you have trouble acclimating as a player or working somebody into the rotation is when you aren’t really sure, which is why we are always reluctant to do deals at the trade deadline, unless they are significant upgrades. Players are better when they’re comfortable with their role, they know their expectations and you’re not figuring out on the fly.”
For more from Olshey, as he details some of the roles and responsibilities of this year’s players, see the accompanying video.