PORTLAND, Ore. — After their fourth first-round exit from the NBA playoffs in the past five seasons, the Portland Trail Blazers embark on what many NBA pundits expect will be an offseason of change as the team attempts to build a championship roster around superstar Damian Lillard.
Neil Olshey, the team's president of basketball operations, spoke to the media Monday at 11 a.m. about the team's offseason.
WATCH: Neil Olshey press conference
The team made its first big move last week, agreeing to part ways with longtime head coach Terry Stotts on Friday. Stotts had coached the Blazers for the past nine seasons and though the team made the playoffs eight years in a row, the Blazers had a 22-40 record in the playoffs and made it out of the first round just three times.
Players expressed some uncertainty about what the team could look like next season following this season's playoff loss against a depleted Denver Nuggets team missing its starting shooting guard and two other important rotation players.
Lillard said where the team currently finds itself "isn't good enough" and said he didn't know "what changes will be made or could be made" during the offseason. Later that night, he caused a stir in NBA circles when he quoted the late Nipsey Hussle from his track, "Dedication," in an Instagram post after the game: "How long should I stay dedicated? How long til opportunity meet preparation?"
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Meanwhile, starting center Jusuf Nurkic told the media he didn't know if he'd back in Portland next season during a postgame media appearance. When asked if he wants to return to Portland, Nurkic said yes, as long as the situation was right. When asked what the right situation is, Nurkic replied, "We'll see, because this is not it."
The biggest question facing the Blazers this offseason, fueled by national media and NBA fans on social media, is whether the front office will break up the team's star backcourt duo by trading CJ McCollum. And multiple reports from national media indicate that teams are closely monitoring the situation in Portland to see if Lillard becomes dissatisfied and asks for a trade.
"Everything is in play," said Ben Golliver, an NBA writer for the Washington Post. "Other than Damian Lillard, the entire roster is tradeable and that includes CJ McCollum. You heard the sense of uncertainty from Jusuf Nurkic in his postgame press conference, and we haven't heard a ton of sentiments like that in past years. So it feels, potentially, like the end of the era."
Meanwhile, the search for a new head coach has already lost one candidate. Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd withdrew his name from consideration on Sunday, telling ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that he was uncomfortable pursuing the Blazers job after Lillard told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes that Kidd was his top choice.
Sean Highkin, a national NBA writer for Bleacher Report, said Lillard endorsing a coaching candidate is an unusual move.
"I've never seen a player — LeBron, Durant, Harden — any of these guys who have these reputations of running an organization actually go on the record with a reporter and say, 'This is the coach I want them to hire,'" Highkin said.
Wojnarowski reported that the candidates to be Portland's next head coach include Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups, ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy, Nets assistant coach Mike D’Antoni and University of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard.
Lillard has also endorsed Billups, who has a personal connection with Olshey, going back to when Olshey was the general manager of the Clippers.