In his Zoom conference, Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey made it clear that he believes this roster is good enough to compete for a championship without making any major moves.
The Blazers do have a strong starting five, capable of competing against any other teams’ starters. The lineup of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, and Jusuf Nurkic was the 4th most effective five-man group in the regular season in 2020-2021.
Even if Olshey doesn’t wish to make any major moves before seeing how the new coach will work with this core, the Blazers do at least have to make upgrades in the margins. Nothing made that clearer than how badly and how often the Denver Nuggets reserves eviscerated the Blazers whenever the bench unit came in.
Whether Neil Olshey believes it or not, the Trail Blazers do have to make roster moves this offseason
If Olshey doesn’t plan on making any trades, then that only leaves free agency as a viable option for adding meaningful contributors.
But unless the Portland Trail Blazers off-load one of their two max contracts this summer, they’ll be entering free agency with negative cap space to work with. Not none, but negative. Like, redder than Black Widow’s ledger in The Avengers.
That doesn’t mean that there’s no way for the Blazers to add depth, though. No matter what a team’s cap situation looks like, the veteran’s minimum exception allows clubs to sign players for a distinguished minimum contract, even if they’re over the salary cap.
If Olshey sticks to his word, this will be the only avenue for the Blazers to make any changes to the roster before next season. Here are three of the top players Portland could add with the veteran’s minimum: