November 8, 2020, 2:58 pm
How’d We Get Here?
The Blazers made a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals without Jusuf Nurkic in 2018-19 but found the road much tougher this past season. Replacing Nurkic with Hassan Whiteside led to disastrous results, despite Whiteside’s gaudy box scores, and the Blazers looked like a lottery team up until the league stopped. At that point, the layoff was enough to get Nurkic back at full strength and the Blazers suddenly looked like a serious threat. They played like it in the bubble, leapfrogging multiple teams to get into the playoffs behind some inspired play from Damian Lillard.
The Blazers struck quickly to shore up their position of greatest need, snagging Robert Covington from the imploding Rockets in exchange for a pick and an older, inferior version of Covington in Trevor Ariza. It sets the table for Portland pushing its chips in a bit further, with a healthy Nurkic and a 3-and-D dynamo like RoCo taking the team to another level. In a perfect world, anyway. The Blazers rounded out their depth with other reasonable signings and look like a much more dangerous version of the Western Conference Finalist team they assembled a couple years ago.
Arrivals: Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Enes Kanter, Harry Giles, Keljin Blevins (2W)
Rookie Arrivals: No. 46 CJ Elleby
Departures: Hassan Whiteside, Wenyen Gabriel, Trevor Ariza, Mario Hezonja, Jaylen Adams, Moses Brown
Retained: Rodney Hood, Carmelo Anthony
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