Portland Trail Blazers: A plan for a one-year tank and retool

Portland Trail Blazers, tank, Damian Lillard (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers, tank, Damian Lillard (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /
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The Portland Trail Blazers currently have 13 wins. At the time of writing, the only teams in the NBA with fewer victories are the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic. While Portland has been actively avoiding the full-on tank that the teams beneath them are engaged in, the Trail Blazers might accidentally fall face-forward into it anyways.

While this certainly wasn’t in the plan, considering the fact that they have a Top-75 NBA player in his prime on the roster in Damian Lillard, missing the playoffs this season might not be the worst possible outcome for the Trail Blazers this year.

Every single rostered player has either missed time due to DNPs, injury, or COVID protocols. CJ McCollum must be moved for Portland to take any steps closer to title contention, but his collapsed lung will make that difficult to pull off before he comes back and rebuilds his trade value. Lastly, the Trail Blazers will lose out on their draft pick this summer unless it lands in the lottery, meaning they’ll have to miss the playoffs to keep their selection.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers should tank this season and retool around Damian Lillard

With all of that in mind, here’s a plan for the Portland Trail Blazers to fully lean into the tank and make for a quick retooling season, as the Golden State Warriors had in 2019-2020.

1. Shed everybody not named Damian Lillard, Norman Powell, Larry Nance Jr., Anfernee Simon, and Nassir Little

The only players that the Portland Trail Blazers have signed on for 2022-2023 right now are Dame, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Larry Nance Jr., Nassir Little, and Greg Brown III.

Portland should capitalize on their useful veterans’ expiring contracts and move them for draft assets and other expiring deals. Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic, Tony Snell, and Cody Zeller should be able to net easy returns for a combination of future picks and similar deals that end at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 NBA season.

Rather than trade CJ McCollum for immediate help, as they should have done for the past four or five seasons, with the way this current year is going, Interim General Manager Joe Cronin can instead look to move him for expiring contracts and draft capital.

If the Trail Blazers can shed every contract aside from Lillard, Powell, Nance, and Little’s and are able to retain Anfernee Simons for around $15 million per year, they’ll have a little over $30 million to work with in free agency for 2022-2023, according to spotrac.

While this summer doesn’t boast the strongest class of free agents, there is a considerable amount of talent available.

Players such as James Harden, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, T.J. Warren, or Deandre Ayton could be convinced to join Rip City for ~$30 million per year given a persuasive enough pitch.

The Portland Trail Blazers could be heading into 2022-2023 with a core consisting of:

Damian Lillard

Norman Powell

Nassir Little

Larry Nance Jr.

DeAndre Ayton

Anfernee Simons

if they play their cards right.