The Portland Trail Blazers had an anti-climactic end to the 2020-21 NBA season. Long-term star Damian Lillard was sublime throughout round 1 of their NBA playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. However, a lack of support from teammates meant that the Trail Blazers were eliminated 4-3. Damian Lillard produced 83 points through games 6 and 7, but it could not prevent the Blazers from losing the series.
Despite the loss, Lillard is reportedly waiting on the Portland Trail Blazers’ off season business to decide on his long-term future. The six-time All-Star has already singled out LA Lakers’ assistant coach Jason Kidd as his choice for the head-coach job at the Portland Trail Blazers. In this article, we look at five players who might not be a part of the Trail Blazers’ roster for the 2021-22 NBA season.
The Portland Trail Blazers’ stars who are out of contract this offseason
The Portland Trail Blazers have a number of players who might become free agents at the end of the season. Carmelo Anthony, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Harry Giles will all be entering unrestricted free agency and will be free to join another team. Zach Collins will also become a restricted free agent. Meanwhile stars such as Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum have also reportedly attracted interest from other teams.
As far as new additions are concerned, the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Karl-Anthony Towns are players the Trail Blazers have said to be interested in. Regardless, without further ado, we look at five players who might leave at the end of the season.
#1 CJ McCollum
The Portland Trail Blazers will be looking to keep hold of Damian Lillard. That leaves CJ McCollum as a potential big asset who can be moved on for reinforcements. Teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have all been named as possible destinations for the high-scoring shooting-guard.
McCollum had injury troubles through the beginning of the season and is eligible for a $ 100 million, three-year extension at the end of the season. While brokering a move for McCollum might prove complicated, a potential deal involving Paul George has been talked about. However, McCollum is unlikeliest to leave, among the players mentioned in this list.
#2 Jusuf Nurkic
Jusuf Nurkic is another big-name player who has indicated that he might not be at the Trail Blazers next season. Nurkic is up for a partially guaranteed extension for next year. The Bosnian had to make do with a reduced role through the second half of the season after returning from an injury.
Nurkic rotated along with Enes Kanter and Harry Giles III at the center position. Jusuf Nurkic has produced 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this season, with his points-average the worst in five years. The 26-year old might as well be moved on by the Portland Trail Blazers, although they might struggle to find an adequate long-term replacement.
#3 Enes Kanter
Another center who is not going to be a part of the Portland Trail Blazers’ roster come next season is Enes Kanter. Kanter is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and is highly unlikely to return.
The Portland Trail Blazers are in the market for reinforcements, with Lillard’s long-term future also reportedly dependent upon their off-season activity. Kanter’s free agency, and the potential trade for Jusuf Nurkic means that the Trail Blazers have enough assets to bring in multiple reinforcements at the center position. Kanter had a reasonably successful season and averaged 11.2 points and 11 rebounds whilst shooting at more than 60% overall. He can be viewed as a role player by multiple playoff contenders, and should improve his numbers if given more game-time.
#4 Robert Covington
The Portland Trail Blazers might also be looking to offload Robert Covington, who is set to become a free agent at the end of next season. Covington produced his worst season since his rookie year in terms of points per game in the 2020-21 season, and averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
His overall shooting efficiency was his best-ever of 37.9%, although the number of attempts saw a reduction overall. The Portland Trail Blazers have a number of adept three-point shooters who can score at a better rate and might view his $12 million a year contract as surplus to needs. Hence, Robert Covington is another player who might move on during the upcoming offseason.
#5 Zach Collins
The 23-year old Zach Collins is perhaps the easiest choice when it comes to outgoing players for the Portland Trail Blazers. He had an injury-disrupted season, started just 11 games and will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Collins was converted into a power forward this season but the move did not seem to pay off. He averaged seven points and 6.3 rebounds in the 11 games he started this season. The Portland Trail Blazers will be required to match bids from other teams if they want to keep him on the roster. That seems highly unlikely, and Zach Collins might not return to the Portland Trail Blazers for the 2021-22 NBA season.