Portland Trail Blazers have 16 eligible players, who gets the boot?

Patrick Patterson, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Patrick Patterson, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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Just a couple weeks ago, fans were wondering if the Portland Trail Blazers would even fill their remaining two roster spots after signing Tony Snell to be their 13th guaranteed contract for the 2021-2022 season.

Now, after signing Dennis Smith Jr., Marquese Chriss, and Patrick Patterson to participate in their training camp, the Blazers will have to relinquish one of the three mercenaries if they plan to enter the upcoming year with the maximum 15 players. Before Patterson’s camp deal was inked, it was reported that Portland had interest in a few other veteran forwards as well.

There’s a slim chance that none of these three training camp bodies makes the final roster, but it wouldn’t make much sense for the Blazers to limit their depth before the season even begins. One thing is for sure though. Portland will have to cut at least one of their players before they tip off against the Sacramento Kings on October 20th.

The Portland Trail Blazers have one cut to make; who’s the most likely to get the boot?

The Portland Trail Blazers have more depth than they’ve had in a long time and now, they’ll be mandated to trim some of the fat. Of the three new signees for training camp, we’ll examine which is most likely to get a guaranteed deal for 2021-2022.

Dennis Smith Jr., Portland Trail Blazers, Detroit Pistons
Dennis Smith Jr., Portland Trail Blazers, Detroit Pistons (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

3. Dennis Smith Jr.

As exciting as the prospect of having a healthy, fully activated Dennis Smith Jr. coming off the bench to relieve Damian Lillard is, he’ll most likely be the one to get the cut if the Blazers go with 15 into the upcoming season.

Between he, Chriss, and Patterson, DSJ has clearly shown the least in his young career. The time he did show off a little bit of his potential was when he was the Dallas Mavericks newly acquired cornerstone, through which they force-fed him the ball and gave him more opportunities than he could handle.

In his rookie year, Smith Jr. put up 15.2 points and 5.2 assists per game, but struggled with his efficiency. He averaged only 40 percent from the field and a paltry 31 percent from deep. His inability to establish himself early as a prospect worthy of a top-10 pick put the Mavericks right back in the draft lottery and gave them the opportunity to draft superstar Luka Doncic.

Doncic’s arrival was the nail in Smith Jr.’s coffin, as it was clear that Luka works best with the ball in his hands and the Mavs work best when he’s cooking. As a result, DSJ was shipped off to the New York Knicks as the centerpiece of the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

Since leaving Dallas, Smith Jr. has continued to struggle with his efficiency and the numerous injuries he’s suffered certainly haven’t helped. According to statmuse, DSJ has averaged 8.3 points and 3.7 assists in 78 games, while shooting 39 percent overall and just 30 from beyond the arc.

While the Blazers desperately need another playmaker behind Dame, it’s highly unlikely that Smith Jr. will be a viable option. His injury history and lack of production while he was healthy project that he’ll be a high-usage, low-efficiency scoring guard at best. If there’s one thing Portland doesn’t need, it’s one of those.