Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers 2020 Offseason: Everything You Need to Know

Trail Blazers

With a 131-122 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5, the Portland Trail Blazers 2019-20 season has come to an end. 

A season that began with hopes of the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance since 1992 ended before it could get going due to injuries to starters Zach Collins and Rodney Hood early in the season. Instead, the Blazers rode Damian Lillard, who had one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history, to the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Now, with the season over, all of Rip City has to wonder what's next.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Well, here's everything you need to know about the upcoming 2020 Trail Blazers offseason to key dates, key players to target, and salary cap flexibility for the franchise. 

Note: The NBA has reportedly had internal discussions about pushing back the currently scheduled 2020-21 NBA calendar to buy more time to negotiate the salary cap. Under the current CBA agreement, the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds would crater due to billions of lost revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

All salary cap numbers are calculated from the NBA's prediction of a $115 million salary cap as announced in January, before the pandemic, and are courtesy of Spotrac

2020 NBA Draft Picks:

The 2020 NBA Draft has currently been scheduled for October 16, 2020 but the league may delay it. 

 

No. 16 overall

Key Targets:

  • Precious Achiuwa (Memphis F/C)
  • Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky G)
  • Josh Green (Arizona, Wing)
  • Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, Wing)
  • Saddiq Bey (Wing, Villanova)
  • Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona B, Wing)
  • Jaden McDaniels (Washington, Wing/F)
  • Tyrell Terry (Stanford, G)

No. 46 overall

Key Targets:

  • Xavier Tillman (MSU F/C)
  • Tyler Bey (Colorado, Wing)
  • Jordan Nwora (Louisville, Wing)
  • Payton Pritchard (Oregon G)
  • Isaiah Joe (Arkansas, Wing)
  • Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, F)
  • Paul Reed (DePaul, F)
  • Justinian Jessup (Boise State, Wing) 

Potential Free Agents:

Free agency has currently been scheduled for October 18, 2020 but the league may delay it.

Hassan Whiteside, 31: Full Bird Rights, $40,639,529 cap hold

Given the health of Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers bringing back Whiteside at his current salary seems highly unlikely. But, the market for the NBA’s leading shot-blocker may be lukewarm at best given his notoriety to be out of position on defense to chase blocks. If the Blazers don’t use cap space, perhaps they can re-sign Whiteside with his full bird rights at a cheap, short-term deal to come off the bench like he has in Orlando. 

Carmelo Anthony, 36: Non-Bird Rights, $1,737,274 cap hold

Melo joined the Blazers following an injury to Zach Collins that left the Blazers in need of help on the wing early in the season and he performed admirably for Portland, averaging 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds while starting at the four. During the eight seeding games, he shot 46.7% from deep on 4.0 attempts a game. If he can replicate that next season, he should be a priority this offseason but they can only give him a contract starting at $2,171,592 with non-bird rights. If he won’t take that, then the Blazers can offer using the MLE or Bi-Annual Exception. 

Before the NBA’s suspension, Melo told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune he wanted to retire in Portland.

I would love to stay. I feel like this is the place for me to end my career. It could have happened earlier, but it didn’t. Now, where I’m at in my life and career, this is where I want to retire. - Carmelo Anthony

He re-affirmed his desire to stay a part of Rip City following the season-ending loss Saturday. 

I pray that it can be Portland. Honestly, I think that I found a home in Portland. I got comfortable with the organization. I got comfortable with the guys on the team. They got comfortable with me. At this point in my career, I do think that's the best fit for me... I really hope it can be Portland at the end of the day. - Carmelo Anthony 

Rodney Hood, 27: Player Option, $6,003,900 if he opts in

The Blazers starting small forward tore his left Achilles tendon on December 6th against the Los Angeles Lakers. He told reporters in April he hasn’t decided to pick up his option but wants “to be back in Portland.”

“No, I haven’t decided yet, but the one thing I do know is that I will be in a Portland Trail Blazers uniform next year. As far as the contract is concerned, it will work itself out when the time comes, but I fully expect to be in a Portland Trail Blazer uniform next year.”

 

He was shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 49.3 percent from three-point range in 21 games before his injury.  

Trevor Ariza, 35: Partial guarantee, $12,888,889 if Blazers keep him, $1,800,000 if waived In a move that cut $12.3 million from the Blazers payroll, Portland acquired Ariza from Sacramento who promptly joined the starting lineup in Rip City. In 21 games as a Trail Blazer, Ariza averaged 11.0 points on 49.1% shooting and 40.0% shooting from deep. The Blazers would be wise to fully guarantee his salary for 2020-21 to provide wing depth, and perhaps even start, next season. 

Mario Hezonja, 25: Player Option, $1,923,1365 if he opts in

The Blazers brought in Hezonja this past offseason to provide depth on the wing and give the second unit some additional playmaking. That plan didn’t come to fruition as Mario struggled to remain a part of the Blazers rotation with Terry Stotts going as far to play Anfernee Simons at the three at times during the restart in Orlando. Expect Mario to pick up the team option and work on his game in the offseason. 

Wenyen Gabriel, 23: Restricted Non-Bird Rights, $1,820,524 qualifying offer

Gabriel was acquired in the same trade that netted the Blazers Trevor Ariza and saw sporadic playing time. Most notably, he started at the four in the Blazers’ victories over the Los Angeles Lakers on January 31 and in Game 1 of their playoff series. Given his familiarity with the system and hustle on the boards, the Blazers may look to bring him back on a minimum deal. 

Caleb Swanigan, 23: Bird Rights, $3,665,787 cap hold

The former Blazers first-round pick was re-acquired from Sacramento and saw immediate playing time as the team's backup center. In 20 games, he averaged 3.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 13.3 minutes per game while shooting 60.5% from the field. He’s a smart player that knows Stotts’ system and could be brought back on a minimum deal if other targets elect to not sign with Portland. 

Jaylen Hoard, 21: Restricted Non-Bird, $1,737,274 cap hold

The 6’8” wing played on a two-way contract with Portland the Texas Legends. In 13 regular-season games he averaged 2.9 points and 2.5 rebounds. 

Moses Brown, 20: Restricted Non-Bird, $1,544,548

Another two-way contract for Portland that saw sporadic playing time due to the lack of big man depth in Portland for much of the season. While he did so in short spurts, the Blazers gave up a 141.7 defensive rating with him on the floor which caused them to be outscored by 50.1 points per 100 possessions. Yes, that’s a small sample size of nine total games but also disastrous enough he should not be a priority this offseason. 

Cap Space:

Guaranteed salary: $93,210,565

If all cap holds are relinquished but roster charges, options declined: $16,990,770

If all options picked up, cap holds relinquished: $2,862,399

Likely cap space: None

Luxury tax threshold: $139,000,000

Space below the tax after picking up all options: $26,862,399

Extension Eligible Players: 

Zach Collins, 22: Full Bird Rights

 

The Blazers will have full bird rights for Zach Collins and could offer up to a max extension if they want to. However, after an injury-filled season, the Blazers likely will not offer an extension Collins would accept. If Collins plays through the last year of his rookie contract next season without an extension, the Blazers will have his restricted rights if they give him a qualifying offer. 

Gary Trent Jr., 21: Early-Bird Rights

Trent Jr. needs one more season with the team to earn full bird rights but the franchise could re-negotiate and extend Trent Jr. with cap space. With that agreement, Trent Jr. can get a raise from his $1,663,861 salary and agree to a team-friendly extension for future seasons. This becomes more of an option if the team declines Ariza’s option and relinquishes Whiteside and Melo’s cap holds, among others. But, because the team needs to use cap space this appears to be unlikely and they will rather re-sign him next offseason with bird rights. 

Key Positions of Need:

3-and-D wings: The Blazers need a wing that can defend elite wings and not be a negative on the defensive end. Gary Trent Jr. evolved into a capable 3-and-D wing inside the bubble but doesn't have the size to defend players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum. In theory, Ariza and Hood should be able to perform this role but adding another one with the MLE and targeting another or two in the NBA Draft should be top priority.  

Backup PG: Perhaps Anfernee Simons can make a leap this offseason but it was clear he wasn't ready to take over the backup point guard role this past season. Drafting or signing someone to relieve Dame and CJ from having to run the offense for 48 minutes will go a long way preserving their legs throughout the season.

One potential second-round target could be Oregon's Payton Pritchard who was one of the best players in college basketball last season and as a four-year starter out of college may be able to contribute right away in a reserve role next season. 

Backup big man: This isn't as pressing of a need with Nurkic and Collins on the roster for next season, but if Hassan Whiteside walks the Blazers should invest a little bit in another big body so Nurkic doesn't have to play over 30 minutes a game. If the Blazers plan to start Nurkic and Collins together, then a reserve big man becomes more of a necessity than if Collins will come off the bench. 

Exceptions:

Mid-Level Exception: $9,755,000 with $115M cap

Targets:

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Danilo Gallinari (very likely out of Blazers’ price range but they could give him nearly 4 years, $40 million to offer longterm security)
  • Joe Harris
  • Derrick Favors
  • Kent Bazemore
  • Marcus Morris
  • Jordan Clarkson
  • Maurice Harkless
  • E’Twaun Moore
  • Dario Saric (likely out of Blazers’ price range)
  • Alec Burks

Bi-annual Exception: $3,318,927 with $115M cap (Using this would hard cap the Blazers)

Targets:

  • Evan Turner
  • Solomon Hill
  • Rondae-Hollis Jefferson
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • Gary Clark
  • Jared Dudley
  • Andre Roberson

Trade Exception $7,069,662: Kent Bazemore Trade, Expires 01/21/2021

Trade Exception $2,338,847: Skas Labissiere Trade, Expires 02/06/2021

Note: Trade Exceptions cannot be combined.

Dead Cap:

 

Andrew Nicholson: $2,844,430

Anderson Varejao: $1,913,345