Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers big off-season includes the return of Melo, 'An incredible spirit'

Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are finished shaping their roster for now -- and what a whirlwind it has been.

Neil Olshey has retooled this roster in a matter of days, not weeks. The Trail Blazers appear to be better on defense, tougher on the boards, more athletic, more versatile and have a lot more proven depth.

And they did it all while staying under the tax line and without sacrificing any of their core group.

Olshey met with the media Monday morning and what impressed me the most was the value the team placed on retaining Carmelo Anthony.

The respected veteran could have gone elsewhere but chose to return to the team that gave him a chance to rejuvenate his career last season.

“He’s an incredible spirit to have around our building,” Olshey said. “The nicest thing for us is that we have kind of become custodians of his legacy to a certain degree. He’s going to be a first-round Hall of Famer and the longer he stays in Portland, the more identifiable he is with the Trail Blazers.

“To be able to contribute to that and participate in his legacy, is really exciting for us. The gravitas that he walks into this building with every day alleviates some of the pressure put on the other leaders like Dame and CJ… A lot of these guys grew up with Melo’s poster on their wall. They played him in 2K.

 

“Having him be willing to come back to Portland... He had multiple opportunities with many teams to join them and play the kind of role he will play for us and the fact that he chose us over them is a real validation that we are doing things the right way and we are treating people well when they are here.”

Olshey indicated that Anthony could likely open the season playing an off-the-bench role and that he could get more shots, more usage, in that role, rather than being a starter.

Portland’s first move, even before free agency, was to deal Trevor Ariza and a couple of future draft choices for Robert Covington, the former first-team all-defensive selection from Houston. He will set a different defensive tone for this team.

Olshey added Enes Kanter for a backup center role and then signed Harry Giles, an oft-injured mobile center who is an outstanding passer with a world of potential. 

Derrick Jones came aboard from Miami to add athleticism and defensive length and he re-signed Rodney Hood.

There will be no more moves in the near term as the team is edging toward the luxury tax and needs to avoid the repeater tax. But for those wondering about another point guard, Olshey quickly pointed out “Anfernee Simons is our backup point guard."

And truth be told, if Gary Trent Jr. continues to emerge as a solid shooter and defender, he is going to need more playing time. That means time as an off-guard (he really isn’t a forward and there are many of those already), he will be playing a lot with CJ McCollum, who needs playing time at the point  -- as McCollum will have to split the 2-guard time with Trent.

The Trail Blazers’ offseason is being hailed league-wide as a big success. And now we wait to see how it pans out.

It won’t be a long wait. Training camp opens in a week!