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2017 Free Agency: Northwest Division, Portland Trail Blazers

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The Portland Trail Blazers took a step back this season, finishing 41-41 with the 8th seed in the Western Conference. They were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the first round but played that series without C Jusuf Nurkic, a big part of their late season surge. The Blazers started out slow but regrouped after trading for Jusuf Nurkic prior to February’s deadline. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum had great years, but the roster simply isn’t good enough to compete with the Western Conference contenders. Management already has 15 players with guaranteed contracts and will most likely cut two for their draft picks. After trading Tim Quarterman to Houston, Portland now has two players with partially guaranteed contracts that could be packing their bags this summer:

1. Festus Ezeli (C)

Photo credit: Steve Dyke/AP

The 6’11 center that Portland signed last offseason looked to be a nice addition on paper. An interior presence coming off an NBA Finals appearance could have been an important tool for the Blazers success. Unfortunately that dream scenario didn’t go as plan, as Ezeli was unable to play for the team due to chronic knee issues. General Manager Neil Olshey said that he won’t be back with the team next season after Portland drafted two bigs in Caleb Swanigan and Zach Collins to back up Jusuf Nurkic. The future big men of Portland seems to be bright, but they still need to make other moves to contend.

2. Pat Connaughton (SG)

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

In 39 games this year, Pat Connaughton averaged as little as two points a game. Nothing really special for the team than a reserve shooting guard playing mostly in garbage minutes. At 24 years old he has a chance to be part of Portland’s future, but it will depend on the front office and if they can see Connaughton developing into an everyday NBA player.

 

About Raymond Mora

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