The Portland Trail Blazers have just completed their 2017 free agency period, one of the more ambitious in the franchises history. In the process they signed eight players to new contracts, each of whom will be making at least $10 million this season. Some may call that “smart” or “aggressive”, but one thing’s for sure, the Blazers are spending a lot of money. Almost $90 million, to be exact, which is the second most in NBA history and the most since the Boston Celtics spent $95 million on their roster in the 2015 offseason.

$90 million is an awful lot of money. It’s more than enough to get anyone excited about the upcoming NBA free agency period, which starts in a couple days. That’s because it’s the first time the Blazers have had the chance to use the space under the salary cap to sign free agents. In the past, they’ve been limited to signing guys to minimum contracts.

The Portland Trail Blazers have been a hot topic ever since they made a deal with the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. With a deal in place to select the University of Arizona’s projected No. 1 pick, Markelle Fultz, the Blazers are projected to have the most cap space in the NBA. So what’s going on?. Read more about portland trail blazers trades and let us know what you think.

The Portland Trail Blazers paid guard Norman Powell $90 million over five years when NBA free agency started on Aug. 2, bringing back a player they think can have an effect. 

The Blazers are doing what they’ve always done in this situation: committing to the players they have now, relying on chemistry, and expecting Damian Lillard to save them. It’s no surprise that Lillard was dissatisfied over the summer. 

Norman Powell, who is he?

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GettyImages-1316886642-1-1024x696 PORTLAND, OREGON – MAY 07: Portland Trail Blazers #24 Norman Powell reacts after his three-point goal against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon on May 07, 2021. | Getty Images/Steph Chambers

Last year, the Blazers acquired Powell from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. (who was paid yesterday) and Rodney Hood. They viewed Powell as a guy who could assist them defensively (which I suppose he did, but not much) while also offering a reliable scoring option to complement Damian Lillard on the wing.

He averaged 17.0 points per game with a 44.3 field-goal percentage after moving to Portland. 

Powell also had an appearance in the playoffs, scoring 29 points against the Denver Nuggets. Is he a competent player? Absolutely. Should the Brinks vehicle have been backed up for him in Portland? Certainly not.

Another first-round exit for the Blazers.

The Blazers failed to go beyond the first round of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

It’s especially aggravating since the club boasts a genuine superstar point guard with incredible scoring ability and range. Lillard, who can pull up from the logo at will, had to carry the team on his back and finished the playoffs as the second-leading scorer with 34.3 points per game.

But he won’t be able to accomplish it by himself.

The squad has serious flaws and does not play defense. Portland had the second-lowest defensive efficiency last season. The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, who advanced to the NBA Finals, were the sixth and seventh best teams in the league, respectively. Even in an age where scoring is so important, defense is still important. 

It’s not Lillard’s fault; it’s the fault of general manager Neil Olshey, who has failed to surround Lillard with top-tier talent. 

Bringing back the same lineup won’t make a difference.

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GettyImages-1317657216-1-1024x683 PORTLAND, OREGON – MAY 08: The Portland Trail Blazers’ Enes Kanter #11, CJ McCollum #3, Damian Lillard #0, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson #2, and Norman Powell #24 high five each other during the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon on May 08, 2021. | Getty Images/Chambers

Olshey has to take action. Anything. I’m a firm believer in the necessity to disband the band, and Rip City should be as well. Both Jusuf Nurki and CJ McCollum should be released. They should have been dealt sooner rather than later, preferably before the NBA draft. The club does not have the defensive skills to even contemplate a playoff run as it presently stands.

Nurki has performed well while fit, but his health remains a significant concern. He returned to play just 37 of 72 games this year after playing only eight games in the COVID-19-shortened 2019-20 season. He had his lowest statistical season since 2016, averaging just 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while on the floor. 

The one thing Olshey can’t do with this squad is keep it the same, but the Powell signing suggests that’s precisely what he intends to do. Running it back doesn’t work when you’re a first-round exit regular, and if you keep letting Lillard down, he’ll ultimately want out. 

In sports, I’m all for loyalty, but there’s a limit to it. For the last nine seasons, Lillard has given his all for the city of Portland, and he is set to begin his tenth. It’s very reasonable for him to question whether this club will ever offer him a chance to win a title.

That question, in my opinion, should be answered with a resounding “no.”

RELATED: Damian Lillard slams a ‘insider’ who keeps implying he’ll demand a trade

Thanks to a crop of cap-rich teams, the NBA’s free agency period is dominated by the very big spending of superstars. To the delight of fans, and the dismay of the rest of the league, this year’s class of free agents has been particularly heavy on the A-listers. Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving are getting a combined $190 million from the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively, while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are each taking home $164 million from the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively. All totaled, this year’s group of big-name free agents will make nearly $500 million in total contracts.. Read more about what time did the blazer game end tonight and let us know what you think.

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