Interim GM Joe Cronin needs to have the leeway to make significant trades before the deadline
Whether or not Allen intends to make Cronin a permanent occupant of the office he’s been sitting in since Olshey’s firing, he needs to be given the entire set of keys to the metaphorical castle.
The Blazers are faced with the rare combination of a bunch of expiring contracts and a high anticipated salary cap number for next year. Lillard and McCollum alone are owed nearly $76 million for next season and more than $81 million for 2023-24.
Adding in money committed to Norman Powell, Larry Nance, Jr., Nassir Little, Greg Brown, and the ghost of Andrew Nicholson, they’ll have $110 million of the $119 cap spent on six players they can use and one that will be half a world away.
Figure in the new contract needed to keep restricted free agent Anfernee Simons and the Blazers won’t be able to sign any of next year’s top-level free agents — a group that includes some genuine superstars along with some sorely needed defensive stalwarts — or even anybody that won’t commit for a mid-level exception or veteran’s minimum deal.
The Blazers have some attractive trade pieces in Simons and the expiring contracts of Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington. Nance has also been mentioned as a possible target for some contenders, and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after next season so his deal is as marketable as his effort and talent.
McCollum will likely be sent to one of those contending teams once he returns from his injury, but that shouldn’t be the only significant deal the Blazers make. They owe their next non-lottery first round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls, so they could stand to accumulate a pick or two and some players with actual contracts for next season.
Otherwise they’ll be suiting up Scott Brooks and Chauncey Billups when COVID hits again in November.