(Photo courtesy of Tony Webster)

Blazing a Trail to the Bottom

The Free Agency Failures of the Portland Trail Blazers

By Abe Field /// Staff Writer

Things could not have gone much worse for the Portland Trail Blazers this offseason. After entering the 2015 playoffs as the 4th seed in the Western conference, the Blazers suffered a first round exit and lost four out of their five starters during free agency. For many fans, this season is only a question of how far the Blazers will fall.

The most notable loss and probably the most impactful was that of LaMarcus Aldridge, the four-time NBA All Star who had spent his first nine years in the league with the Blazers. Over the past two years, Aldridge was the only player to average 23 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. Aldridge left for the Spurs, center Robin Lopez departed for the Knicks, Nicolas Batum was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats and Wesley Matthews went to the Dallas Mavericks.

The only Blazer starter who did not leave the team is Damian Lillard, the young two-time all star who has led the Blazers to the playoffs the past two years. Lillard was drafted by the Blazers with the 6th overall pick in the 2012 draft and has started for the team for the past three years, averaging 20 points per game.

The Blazers were not completely silent on the free agency front. Portland will look towards new center Mason Plumlee from the New York Nets and Noah Vonleh, a former top 10 pick from Bobcats. Additionally the Blazers added Ed Davis from the LA Lakers. None of these players have played well their past few seasons, and they have big shoes to fill in Portland.

Despite the dismal outlook of this year’s season, there is some hope for this Blazers team. Portland’s management is looking to build a young team around Damian Lillard, and if he continues at his level of play and production over the next few years, there may be a chance of attracting a big name free agent. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony will hit the market during free agency of 2017; maybe the Blazers will have a shot at getting them. Well, one can dream.

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