Blazers roundup: Portland gets a B- for offseason moves

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Welcome to August, the most boring month of the NBA year.

It's the slow part of the NBA offseason. The draft is over. Free agency has all but wrapped up. The trade season is dormant. NBA training camps don't open until well into September.

Carmelo Anthony is still a Knick. Kyrie Irving is still a Cavalier. Movement of either of those two disgruntled stars could set off fireworks in August, but for now, things are quiet.

The Blazers have been mentioned in some NBA pundits' musings recently. Here's a rundown of what they have to say.

Pelton: Blazers get a B- for offseason

ESPN's Kevin Pelton graded the offseason moves, including the draft, free agency and trades, for every Western Conference team. He gave the Blazers a B-.

Here's what he had to say:

Having started the summer scheduled to pay $40 million in luxury taxes, the Blazers were never going to be players in free agency after spending lavishly a year ago. Portland managed to cut that bill dramatically without using any draft picks by swapping Allen Crabbe to the Brooklyn Nets for Andrew Nicholson. I was less enthused about the Blazers' trading the No. 15 and No. 20 picks to move up to No. 10 and take Gonzaga center Zach Collins, who struggled to make shots in summer play. Portland has a bit of a crowd in the frontcourt after drafting Collins and Caleb Swanigan in the first round.

Five teams graded worse than Portland: Memphis (C), Phoenix (C), Sacramento (C), New Orleans (C-) and San Antonio (D+).

The Ringer: Stotts on the hot seat

Haley O'Shaugnessy and Paulo Uggetti of The Ringer wrote about every NBA coach they believe could be fired this season and included Blazers head coach Terry Stotts on the list.

Keep in mind, it was not an exclusive list by any means. The article mentioned 18 of the NBA's 30 coaches, so take it for what it's worth. No NBA coaches were fired during the 2017-18 season, so the league is probably due for some level of purging, but 18 coaches seems like a bit much.

Here's what O'Shaughnessy wrote about Stotts:

Patience is a virtue, unless it’s costing you money. Stotts didn’t personally sign Portland’s checks last offseason, but he did coach the exact same core to a worse defense, worse overall record, and quicker postseason exit than the year before (though an obligatory exception applies for playing the Warriors in the first round). December was a low point, with the team going 4–11 and having the second-worst defensive rating, but Portland finagled its way to redemption by securing the last playoff seed in the Western Conference. This season, nearly everyone in the West will be a juiced version of last year’s team except for the Blazers. Stotts isn’t at fault for Portland not beefing up, but in-season losses create the illusion that Stotts should be blamed. Even after wiping Allen Crabbe’s contract, Portland will pay an estimated $10 million in luxury tax fines this season. Coughing up that for 40 wins or fewer is enough to make any front office panic.

The authors listed Stotts under the "Running Out of Allowance" category, along with the Clippers' Doc Rivers, Pistons' Stan Van Gundy, Raptors' Dwane Casey, Hawks' Mike Budenholzer and Hornets' Steve Clifford. 

ESPN: Nurkic 14th-best free agent in 2018

The Blazers' center got a nod in Kevin Pelton's write-up of the top 30 potential free agents in 2018, sliding in at No. 14, between Rockets center Clint Capela and Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins.

Pelton said if Nurkic plays the 2017-18 season the way he did during his 20-game stretch with Portland, he'll move quickly up the list. But for now, with uncertainties surrounding his health and whether he can maintain his Portland-level performance over a full season, he ranks where he does.

Here's what Pelton had to say:

If he plays a full season like his first two months in Portland -- which saw him average 18.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and a surprising 3.9 blocks per 36 minutes -- Nurkic could jump ahead of the other 2014 first-round picks, save Embiid. Given how poorly he responded in Denver when asked to back up Jokic, Nurkic still needs to prove he can be a good team player for a full season to maximize his value.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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