NBA free agency has kicked off and is well underway. While the NBA landscape has shifted the Portland Trail Blazers roster has shifted as well. Earlier in the week we heard the news of the Blazers trading Evan Turner for Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks. Free agency offers the next opportunity for a NBA team to improve their roster and although President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey stated, “Don’t expect fireworks [when free agency opens]” we did see some.
Free agency began with what most Blazer fans had already expected from reports that were discussed during the Blazers exit interviews. Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers had agreed to a four-year $196 million super max contract extension, making Damian Lillard the player to sign the biggest contract on the first day of free agency. It will also make Lillard the first NBA player to be paid $50 million a year.
Free agency was set to begin Sunday, June 30, at 3pm PST. Right around 2pm though, a number of reports began flooding the news stream. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had agreed to go to the Brooklyn Nets, Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers.
The first Trail Blazers domino dropped right at about 3:30. Al-Farouq Aminu had agreed to a three-year $29 million deal with the Orlando Magic. Aminu, who has been a huge defensive component within the Blazers system now leaves after four years with the team.
Just 12 minutes later the next firework in Rip City went off. Rodney Hood had agreed to a two-year deal to return to the Portland Trail Blazers. The reports on the deal were originally two years at $16 million. This left many Blazer fans assuming a trade must be coming due to their salary cap situation. It was reported shortly after by the Athletics’ Jason Quick, the deal will be the taxpayer mid-level the first year and a player option in the second for somewhere close to six million dollars.
This is exactly what one could consider a bargain of a deal. This has to be mentioned because watching players like Forward Garret Temple sign for two-years $10 million, and Harrison Barnes, Forward for the Sacramento Kings signed for four-years, $85 million, it was thought Hood was lined up for a payday. The Blazers will pay Hood roughly $12 million over the next two seasons. Across all of Blazers’ Twitter and amongst the Blazer Gang staffers, everyone seemed happy to see Hood returning. It was chalked up as a win for the Blazers.
The Blazers had gotten Hood to re-up with the team and run it back. Blazers fans were happy and for once I think all of Blazers fans could agree, Neil Olshey did a good thing. An hour after the Hood signing, NBC Sports Northwest reporter Dwight Jaynes tweeted, “Word from league sources is the Trail Blazers are not done for the day. Still active and one would assume that would mean a center.”
A little less than two hours later Jaynes, again from Twitter, told Blazer fans that it could take a while, essentially calling it a night. One hour later, news broke that the Trail Blazers had signed Forward Mario Hezonja to a one-year deal.
Day two of free agency is underway! If you have not heard the news yet, the Portland Trail Blazers have traded Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless for Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat. All three players are in the last year of their deals. Olshey has now turned his 2016 contracts into Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside. There were times that many people believed all three of these contracts to be untradeable. We are now looking at a team coming off a Western Conference Finals appears that just added shooting, wing depth and a starting caliber center who averaged over two blocks a game last season.
Offseason grades will have to wait. For now, how does this roster fit together Rip City?